National conference selects local middle school girl

Shantera Smith, an eighth-grade student at Fannin Middle School, recently nominated for the National Young Leaders State Conference.

It's an honor not all students get to experience, but for 13-year-old Shantera Smith she has the chance to be honored as a national young leader in June.

The National Young Leaders State Conference will be held in Dallas, Texas, from June 5-8. Nominated by her Algebra I teacher at Fannin Middle School, Smith said she never saw it coming.

"I just do my work, sit back, pay attention and I didn't think he even noticed me," Smith said.

The conference is a four-day event. It helps young scholars build leadership skills and strategies. It's also an opportunity for students to interact with individuals who have similar goals.

"You walk around school and it's just like people don't care anymore," Smith said. "Getting to go to the conference I'll get to be around people who are just like you, and you don't have to pretend to be someone else."

Smith's mom, Sharonda Davis, is a single mother. She said she plans to hold bake sales, anything to raise $1,500 in less than two months, because this is an opportunity she won't let her daughter miss.

"It's a lot of money, but it covers her room-and-board, and her training materials that she'll need for the conference," Davis said.

In 2014, the four-day conference will include students from more than 30 cities, and according to Davis her daughter will be the the first African American to represent Amarillo.

"It's an honor, it truly is," Davis said. "Now we just have to get her there."

Davis also opened an account at the Education Credit Union under Sharonda Davis.