Nira Henning is the 2020 recipient of the CHOICE Scholarship. Her immediate plans include attending UW-Madison. She is optimistic about her goal of moving away from Milwaukee and into a new phase of prioritizing herself and placing her goals first.
“I’ve known since sixth grade that I want a career in healthcare,” she says of her passion for nursing and pediatrics. During her years at Bay, Nira was a member of Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA), which opened doors to opportunities at hospitals, volunteer assignments at several Aurora Healthcare medical centers, and shadowing registered nurse and nurse practitioner specialties.
Nira has always felt a deep sense of purpose caring for others – as a protector, nurturer, and leader. As the oldest of her five siblings, she is like a second mother to her brother and sisters. “I help them with their homework, listen to them when they need someone to hear them out, and I am their biggest support,” she says. Being a mentor and leader in school and the community is another chosen path. She served as a Group Leader for several Youth Frontiers retreats. For two years she was Food Drive Group Leader for Bay Gives Back. In her senior year she was a member of Model UN. Her favorite classes were AP Psychology and Leadership in Social Justice. “Both of these classes have taught me things not only about the world but the way I think about things,” she says.
As for navigating the challenges of 2020, Nira has been listening to music, cooking, and is eager to get back to hanging out with friends and family to celebrate good times. “We usually have a cookout as one big family,” she says.
She shared several songs that resonate with her at this moment in history and recommends that others – including readers of this article – take pause and listen and watch:
- “Made It,” by Teyana Taylor. [ https://youtu.be/KFvo6Ixzubk ] – This song celebrates graduating in spite of the things going on in the world right now.
- “How Many Times,” by Trey Songz. [ https://youtu.be/neWTNaklleU ] – For Nira, this song brings awareness to the innocent Black lives lost and the emotions felt in the Black Community.
A common sight these days for Class of 2020 students and graduates are yard signs. Nira poses next to her sign, which includes the quote, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world,” – Mr. Drew. The message is the words of the mentor for her and other Black students in Whitefish Bay High School’s Black Student Union. “Mr. Drew aka Mr. Randee has pushed myself along with the other students in our Black Student Union, to achieve our goals and to stay focused,” Nira explains. “The power in that quote is realizing the power in one’s voice and actions. We all have the ability to change the world, but we must first learn to be the change we want to see.”
–Story by Jean Ryan McHale