Turnaround achiever: 'She showed me something to live for'

By Ava

Charleston, S.C. (WCIV) Each day at school you'll find 17-year-old Antoinette Young, who prefers to be called Nettie, at the front of the classroom at Goose Creek High School.{}

"I was real good at school, had a bunch of As and Bs all the time, but then I just stopped doing my work. I didn't care about my work. It was hard (with) my dad not wanting to be apart of my life, my brother going to jail, me going to jail, seeing one of my closest friends get shot, my grandmother dying, the drugs and the alcohol and the police," she said. "It's a new beginning of an old story."

Young admits now she was looking for a father figure or role model in her life. When she didn't find one, it led her to a gang and eventually jail.

{}"So it was just like me basically watching everyone else around me in the streets doing what they did and me as a little kid wanting to be just like them because there was nobody else to look up to," she said.

Then one day Young walked into Mrs. Deese's classroom.

"Ms. Deese showed me how to love myself and love others the right way. I then began to see the light," said Young.

Mrs. Lissa Deese was part of the focus of Young's Turnaround Achievement Award essay. Young and 25 other students in Berkeley County schools were honored for their hard work this week.{}

"Everybody else had given up on me a long time ago, she never judged me for my past and only wanted the best for my future. She made me feel smart enough to further my education," Young said.

"Nettie built walls instead of bridges and she built the wall around her so high and she was so angry and so sad that she was drowning in that anger," said Deese.

Deese said Young could always do the work, she just need a little push to stay the course. She said Young did slip at times, but that was when she first decided to do better for her life.

"I said, 'Nettie, sometimes it feels like you belong to me.' And Nettie said, 'I do, Ms. Deese.' So, it's been wonderful to watch her progress," said Deese.

Young said it was hard work making up credits, but words can't express what it means to be rewarded for her effort.

"It's been good. (It) makes me feel like I'm somebody; it makes me feel like I'm not a nobody. I actually got something to live for and I should be here," said Young.

Young is on track to graduate in May. She's already been accepted into a college in Charlotte, where she plans to study music.