December Student of the Month


KC Ciresi

Though COVID-19 has taken over the lives of everyone in the Manual community, students continue to shine in both school and extracurricular activities. Without in-person class, students have lost their outlet to show off their talents and achievements to the Manual community. 

Manual RedEye has decided to feature one student each month as a way to showcase the students that are going above and beyond throughout the school year. For future months, a question form will be posted on RedEye’s social media as a way for students to nominate their peers. The winner will be featured on RedEye’s social media as well as in an article like this one, explaining their achievement.

December’s student of the month is Believe Chakenya (10, HSU). Over quarantine and the abnormal events of 2020, Chakenya wrote and published her second book, titled, “In the Year we Lost Everything.”

Photo by Believe Chakenya.

“It was sort of a spontaneous project that kind of just happened,” Chakenya said. “In a period of reflection, I realized that this year people all over the world, all ages and races, lost something– whether it be people, time, businesses, money, anything at all.”

Chakenya wanted to highlight the positives of this year as a way to remind others to learn from the lessons of this year and to keep a positive attitude. 

“Though it was hard to recognize any good that came out of this year, I think if we look for it we will find the light in this year,” she said.

Chakenya focusing on the good that came out of a very tough year is not surprising to her friend, Emily Burns (10, YPAS). 

“She is just such a bright, bubbly person,” Burns said. “I always looked forward to seeing her in my biology class because she always had a funny story to tell!”

Burns is currently reading Chakenya’s book and enjoys the honest nature of the book’s description of this year. 

“I love that it sheds some light on 2020 and what has happened, but also the positive outcomes,” she said. “The book is called ‘In the Year we Lost Everything’, but as you read on, you see that it’s about what was found.”

Chakenya is just as ambitious of a student as she is with her writing. At Manual, she’s a part of the Executive Council, Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) and Future Health Professionals (HOSA).

 “I want to be a doctor,” she explained. “I’m split between specializing [in] surgery and OB/GYN.”

Chakenya wants to be a part of a change in how doctors treat their POC patients. 

“One, I’m black. And black women have extremely high mortality rates in the hospital room [and] a huge factor is discrimination, racial bias– many doctors don’t believe black women when they say they are in pain,” she said.

Along with this, she wants to inspire young women like herself to follow their dreams.

“I want to be a model for young black girls, 2% of doctors are black women,” Chakenya said.

Chakenya also has her mother as a role model creating change in her community. 

“My mom works with refugees, especially women in vulnerable situations. We noticed that the local refugee center is doing a lot for people but there are some needs that are still not met,” she said.

She plans to start a non-profit organization with her mother to help women and children in the Louisville community.

 “We’re wanting to open a center for women and kids to have a safe place to learn and catch up if needed, have recreational time and just provide resources that they normally wouldn’t have,” she said.

70 percent of the sales of “In the Year we Lost Everythingwill be going to opening this organization. 

“I feel that [Chakenya] should be recognized for her work during these hard times,” Burns said. “It’s been so hard to have motivation for creativity this year, but she always finds a way.”

With all of her activities and achievements, Chakenya has one goal: to make a difference.

 “I want to shift the perception of people: to teach them to see light in the midst of the darkness,” she said. “But also to recognize that turmoil is part of life. We shouldn’t be afraid of it. We should embrace it and learn from it and grow something beautiful.”

You can purchase your own copy of the E-Book: “In the Year we Lost Everything” here

“I wanted to showcase a variety of experiences and lessons both good and bad,” Chakenya said. “I think if we look for it, we will find the light in this year.”