Q&A with Victory College Prep Graduate Christionna Harris
The Mind Trust believes the perspectives of those most affected by education change should be valued and allowed to shape education innovation and transformation. No one is more affected than students who attend schools we have helped launch and continue to support. In light of that, The Mind Trust’s Students on the Mind series highlights the experiences and viewpoints of high school students across center township.
Christionna Harris, a 2022 graduate of Victory College Prep, sat down with us for a Q&A to share about attending Victory College Prep since 8th grade, her plans to become a pediatric oncologist, and the many opportunities her school has connected her to over the years.
Q: What has been most valuable about your experience at Victory College Prep?
A: I’ve been attending Victory College Prep since 8th grade. I like all the opportunities they give us. Specifically, the career pathways programming we get to choose. We engage in things we are interested in beyond the core high school classes. I like how they have different events like town halls, pep rallies, sports, and different things. It’s a nice community where it is easy to bond with other students.
Q: Describe what Victory College Prep’s pathways are and which one did you choose?
A: The pathway I chose is healthcare. I took a CNA course and we got to do clinicals at a nursing home working alongside actual residents and CNAs. Our instructor was a CNA herself and shared about the different possibilities related to that role whether it’s with an agency or care homes or whatever it might be.
Clinicals was so much fun. It showed me that I do really want to do this. It was really hands-on, I was never not busy. I love helping people, I feel joyful seeing the smiles on people’s faces after helping them. My long-term hope is to be a pediatric oncologist and starting out by getting experience being a CNA is part of my meeting those future goals.
Q: What classes at Victory College Prep have really stood out to you?
A: I’ve been able to take classes through Ivy Tech alongside a lot of other dual-credit opportunities. I love how those dual-credit classes have held us to college-level expectations. I’m already getting an experience of college and figuring out how to manage my time. I won’t be unprepared when I get to college. Graduating early is big too, it means I only have to do three years of college before going off to med school, which speeds up my process. That’s nice because medical school takes a long time.
Q: What have you been involved in at Victory College Prep outside of academics?
A: I have done cooking club, student council, volleyball, and cheerleading. I was volleyball team captain for a year and cheerleading captain for two years. I think that all of those different experiences, whoever is leading it, they are always so supportive and work with us to make sure we can be involved in multiple things at once. My favorite of those is volleyball. I had a close bond with my coach, Ms. Otolski. Our team took losses together, tried our hardest, and always lifted each other up so it was a great experience.
Q: Who has been an important mentor for you during high school?
A: My first one would be my mom. I come to her with all my problems and she just always calms me down and makes me think about it and helps me view the bigger picture. Also Ms. Otolski, she’s been my support here in school, anytime I’ve had a bad day and just needed to readjust, she would take me aside and make sure I’m okay.
Q: You recently graduated as the valedictorian of Victory College Prep’s 2022 graduating class. Was that always your goal?
A: It started being my goal in 8th grade. One of my friends said he wanted to be valedictorian and I asked him what that meant. He said it meant being first in your class and I thought that sounded cool. Freshman year came and I ended up being first in my class for that year. I realized I was just doing my work and doing what I would normally do and it’s stayed that way throughout high school.
Q: What has been your favorite experience in your time at Victory College Prep?
A: My favorite experience has been senior night. Senior night is a celebration of seniors involved in athletics. Each sport is recognized and they call your name, what college you are going to, and what you’re going to major in. We each get a gift or memento to remember the sport we participated in. Since I was in cheerleading I got to do a solo performance so I did a cheer in front of the whole crowd. They also show a video of all the seniors and we get to share about our favorite moments from the season and thank people who have supported us throughout high school. The crazy thing was that we had it set for a certain day and then it got cancelled because of weather. It had to get rescheduled later in the same week. But the school worked hard to make sure it was still just as special and still felt like a normal senior night.
Q: What are your immediate plans after graduation?
A: I plan to attend Ball State University and major in biology. I also plan to work part-time as a CNA during college. I already got an interview with the nursing home I did my clinicals at to start off early getting experience even before I go to college. They encouraged us to apply to get more hours in and they explained how temporary CNA licenses work. So I’ll be able to get paid experience assisting the CNAs there.
Q: What is something you want people to know about Victory College Prep?
A: If you let a teacher know you are interested in something, they will help you get connected to the right people to pursue your passion. Victory College Prep is always looking for outside opportunities to connect students to. One summer I got involved with TeenWorks. If I hadn’t been attending Victory College Prep, I never would have known about TeenWorks because I got my application for the job from the school.
Christionna is an intelligent, ambitious, thoughtful, and responsible young woman. She maintains a positive attitude and is respectful on and off the court, and in doing so she truly demonstrates our values as a school community at Victory College Prep. Christionna is a guide for fellow students and someone adults can rely on as a leader, making her a positive role model for her classmates and teammates.Victory College Prep Teacher Katharine Otolski
Victory College Prep is a K-12 school on the south side of Indianapolis that empowers students with the academic and social-emotional skills to thrive in college or a career. Students are challenged through rigorous coursework to prepare them to achieve in the real-world. With 100 highly-qualified teachers, support staff, and administrators, Victory College Prep students consistently outperform their peers in other Indianapolis schools.
About The Mind Trust
The Mind Trust is an Indianapolis-based education nonprofit that works to build a system of schools that gives every student, no exceptions, access to a high-quality education. The Mind Trust does this by building a supportive environment for schools through policy and community engagement, empowering talented, diverse educators to launch new schools, and providing existing schools with the support they need to hire world-class talent and achieve excellence. Since 2006, The Mind Trust has supported the launch of 49 schools, 15 education nonprofit organizations, and has helped place more than 1,800 teachers and school leaders in Indianapolis classrooms.