For as long as she can remember, Odessa High School senior - and future lawyer - Kabrina Sanchez has wanted to make things right. Whether it’s been around campus or around the community, Sanchez has never shied away from working hard to ensure everyone has a fair shot at success.
“When I was younger, I liked to argue and I liked to be right,” Sanchez said. “Now, I don’t like it when I see things that aren’t fair. If something isn’t right [or just], that bothers me.”
It bothers her to the point that she’s willing to put in the hard work required to balance the scales.
“You will never meet a more pleasant, giving lady,” Odessa High School coach Danny Servance said. “She is always the first one who will want to help. That attitude will take her really far in life.”
Sanchez has been cultivating her work ethic since she can remember. At age 5, she began taking karate classes. As she worked to master the art, she learned key skills that drive her today.
“I started karate when I was five and began learning determination, motivation and accountability, and that has stuck with me,” she said. “It’s not just the idea of accountability, it’s the practice of it.”
Servance said Sanchez’s family, both through their church and individually, have always made it a priority to help others, and Kabrina took those lessons to heart.
“I started to realize as I got older that there are people who are less fortunate,” she said. “I’m dedicated to help others because that’s what God wants us to do. It opens my eyes to people who struggle with things that come easy to a lot of us.”
In holding herself accountable for helping those who aren’t as fortunate, Sanchez made significant commitments to help both before school and during the school day. Sanchez served as a regular volunteer for Odessa’s Meals on Wheels program, and as class president, she launched a service project that cared for the homeless. She started her days delivering meals to older community members, and she worked to secure donations from area businesses to create care packages to provide the homeless with food and other necessities.
To live up to the commitments, Sanchez relied on the skills she learned early, specifically determination and accountability. As a volunteer for Meals on Wheels, she knew people were counting on her and she was determined to do her part.
“She’s an extremely hard worker,” Servance said. “You don’t meet too many kids where their work ethic transcends across all aspects of her life. She does a great job with that. She wants to contribute.”
And she’ll continue to contribute, both when she gets to Wayland Baptist University after the summer and as she pursues a law degree. She’s dedicated herself to becoming successful, not only for her family but so she can continue to help in the community. She wants to provide scholarships and continue to help those who struggle to make ends meet.
“To do that, you need to be successful,” she said. “That makes me want to study and do well so I can do that as an adult.”
With her law degree in hand, Sanchez hopes to hang her shingle and get to work helping those who may have been wrongly convicted.
“There are errors in the legal system that can be fixed,” she said. “If someone is innocent, then I want to find a way to help them and prove that.”
One thing is already certain: Sanchez won’t stop working on that cause. Righting wrongs will only fuel her to continue her efforts.
“There is so much to fix that there is never a rest time,” she said. “If I’m not busy, I don’t feel productive. If I’m busy, I know I’m doing something to make the community better. The busier I am, the happier I am.”
WHITEHOUSE'S COOPER CLEMONS
For all of Whitehouse High School senior Cooper Clemons’ on-field accolades, coach Marcus Gold has always been most impressed with his dedication to leadership and service.
“He is an example of someone who leads by example in everything he does; whether that be his schoolwork, studying film, or volunteering for community service,” Gold said. “He is the ultimate team player, does everything any coach asks him to do and is a great example for his younger classmates.”
The work that Clemons did to keep himself prepared as an athlete paid off on the football field and basketball court. He earned all-district honors at two different positions for the football team – not to mention academic all-state honors – and started for three years on the basketball team. Clemons understood how things needed to be done, and he set out to do them that way.
“I have never been super loud or outspoken,” Clemons said. “I want to set a good example by doing things the right way all the time. That’s really important.”
But more than being a leader on the field or court, Clemons has understood for a while now that it’s more important to be a leader – and someone who can make a difference off the court.
“I’ve been blessed with how I’ve been raised,” Clemons said. “I haven’t needed a lot of help. But I realize that there are lots of people who need help.”
Clemons didn’t need to look far to see where he could make a difference. An uncle with special needs motivated Clemons to see how he could help. At a week-long camp that serves adults with special needs, Clemons served as a counselor. He worked closely with one camper during the day and another at night, helping them accomplish the nightly tasks that are second nature to most.
“You have to help them do what needs to be done,” Clemons said. “There is a joy and feeling you get from seeing them be happy. They have a lot of struggles, and they don’t get to do a lot of fun activities, but when you are there at camp and you are interacting, you really see the joy that the camp brings to them. That’s pretty cool.”
If personal experience drew Clemons to help those with special needs, a connection to humanity helped him find his other passion. He’s made several trips to areas devastated by natural disaster to help those community members begin the rebuilding process.
“Through our church, we do projects that people need help with,” Clemons said. “A few years ago, we went to Houston to help clean up after one of the hurricanes. We were the first people into someone’s house since it had been evacuated, and we basically ripped out everything that needed to be replaced. I love doing the hands-on work like that.”
While he takes pride in helping others and often feels good about what he and the other volunteers have accomplished, Clemons said he just wants to help others experience some of the positives he’s been fortunate to grow up with.
“I can help, and maybe that will make things a little better or easier for someone else,” Clemons said.
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