Letter to the editor: Watching someone grow

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Brittany Collins

My name is Tracy G. Robicheaux. I have been a pediatric nurse practitioner for nearly ten years. I work in Donaldsonville for Children’s International Medical Group. Caring for children has been my passion since I became a nurse in 1996. My goal for my patients is for them to grow up to be the most well rounded, beautiful, happy person they can be. When that comes to fruition it is rewarding beyond measure. I work in a rural health clinic where my patients often face struggles that alone are impossible to overcome: poverty, lack of resources, poor health and nutrition and lack of role models.

One day recently our patient, Brittany Collins, walked into my clinic with her family. She needed me to fill out an immunization form for her to go a secondary summer school program. Like always I told her I would fill it out and get it back to her the next day. When I looked at the form I noticed it was from Harvard University. Intrigued, I asked about it and she told me she received a full paid scholarship to attend the university this summer and study science which she is most interested in. I told her and her mother what an enormous opportunity this was and began to swell with pride for this beautiful young girl.

I went home and couldn’t stop thinking about her so called her mother the next day to see if I could interview her and write a story about her for the people of our community and my patients whom I preach the benefits of making good grades and working hard in school. She came in with her father later that day and I had the pleasure of getting to know her better. Brittany was raised in the catholic church of St. Catherine and fellow members have been very supportive of her. She joined the choir at age three. She has since been very active in multiple roles: lector, alter service, and the St. Catherine liturgical Dancers dance group.

Brittany is sixteen years old and is finishing her junior year at Donaldsonville High School. However, she completed all her required classes for graduation last year and this year began taking college courses at River Parishes Community College (RPCC) for early college options. She will graduate high school next year and will also receive an associate’s degree in general studies from RPCC and will begin her college career as a junior. She was first contacted by Princeton University with a letter of interest and before she knew it, literally every other ivy league school in our nation began recruiting her.

When I asked her how she would possibly decide where she wants to go she replied "I want to be a neurosurgeon and will attend the university that is the all around best fit for me." She will attend a secondary summer school program at Harvard in June that will last 7 weeks. She will take two classes worth four credits each and will earn 8 hours college credit upon completion of the program. She will stay on campus in the dormitory and will have the same privileges other Harvard University students have. She will be studying neurobiology and stem cell regenerative biology.

Brittany loves helping people and she loves science which is why she chose this course of study. She understands the benefit of stem cell research. "I love how science can better a person’s life" She also loves reading and creative writing. She has been in the Beta club since fifth grade and has been inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa and Gamma Beta Phi college honor societies. She has a wonderful support system and credits her church and family for always believing in her.

Amongst her biggest supporters are her mother, Nakisha Collins, her father, Lejuane Collins, older sister Jasmine Collins, a sophomore at Xavier University, & younger sister Alyssa Collins whom they hope to inspire, grandmother Kerry Patterson, grandfather Kevin Patterson, great grandmother Rosalie McGalliard, aunt Stacy Nelson and cousins Morgan and Caiden Kyle. It is no wonder this bright young lady has achieved such success in life already. She is cheerful, smart, loving and dedicated to her church and family. I can only hope every child in this community will look up to her and know that good things do happen when you apply yourself. What a great role model for kids everywhere, but especially for the children in our community who are faced with challenges every day. Hard work does pay off!

I am privileged to serve the children of our community and I hope I am lucky enough to stay in touch with Brittany over the years and follow the great work I know she is going to do. I am so proud of her! Thank you, Brittany for allowing me to share your story because it is certainly a shining example of what can be achieved if you really put your mind to it.