By Lupe Medina
Rodnesha McNeal was an ordinary sixth-grader. She sat at her desk furiously scribbling on her paper. Her English assignment was to write a poem on one of her passions. Mindlessly, she decided to write about her bunny.
To McNeal’s disbelief, her teacher was so impressed with the poem that it was published in a book called “Talented 2012 Poetry Collection.”
“I was like, ‘Oh this is great!’ I just started writing stuff down and I turned it in. I didn’t think it was just… this hit,” McNeal said.
She describes how all of the students wanted to meet her after reading the poem that was published in the collection of poetry by young writers from all over the country. McNeal would have never thought that her simple poem could get that much attention.
Three years later, McNeal shared that memory with a substitute teacher who was with her class for two weeks. The substitute read the published poem and made a proposal. He told McNeal that she had to attend a journalism workshop.
She had to be a writer.
“It was about my bunny. I was like, ‘Really?’,” McNeal said.
She didn’t see how she could possibly have the potential to become a writer. That was not something she had given thought. Still, she took a chance and submitted the application for the Multicultural Journalism Workshop at the University of Alabama. The substitute also suggested she had the potential to model.
In fact, McNeal had already been for a year. She is currently on a four-year contract training to be a model on a “pretend runway.” Once a month, she has a four-hour practice training to walk, pose and act like a professional model. One of the hardest parts for her is practicing public speaking because she has a difficult time projecting her voice.
The idea that McNeal would always only be in front of the camera got the substitute thinking that it would be a cool experience for her to get the feel of what it’s like being behind a camera and not being the subject of a photo. That really got McNeal thinking about starting to take pictures; which was another reason she took the challenge of attending the workshop in Alabama. Since that workshop, she has enjoyed snapping shots.
At 15 years old, McNeal holds a strong vision for her future. She plans on attending the University of Tennessee. She didn’t want to go too far away from her hometown of Memphis.
In order to prepare herself well in having a successful future, she says that she will strive to continue earning A’s and B’s, as she has always achieved.
“I will try my best to earn scholarships and maintain my GPA,” McNeal said. She said she will always try having that mindset of staying positive throughout the difficulties she will face.
Graduating college is something that is important to her. She wants to make her mom, Jennifer Tucker, proud. Since Tucker wasn’t able to finish college, graduating is a priority for her daughter.
“She is a strong, strong person. I always turn to her because she pushes me to try harder, go further and be better,” McNeal said.