Inspiring Clewiston: Janae Steen is an inspiration

CLEWISTON — Vanderbilt University student Janae Steen is a very busy young woman, who is not only doing an internship for The School District of Palm Beach County’s Office of African, African American, Latino, and Gender Studies, but she has managed to place on the Dean’s list at the university during both the Fall of 2018 and the Spring of 2019 while interning. Janae was born and raised in Clewiston, the daughter of Dr. Janet Peeples, granddaughter of Robert and Lavita Holmes, and great granddaughter of Janet Taylor.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Janae Steen was an honor student in high school who graduated magna cum laude from Palm Beach State College with an associate’s degree before she graduated from Pahokee High School, and she will be entering her sophomore year at Vanderbilt University in the Fall.

She attended school in both Belle Glade and Pahokee but graduated from Pahokee. Although she is not quite 19 years old yet, she has already accomplished quite a bit. She was an honor student in high school who graduated Magna Cum Laude from Palm Beach State College with an associate degree before she graduated high school, and she will be entering her sophomore year at Vanderbilt University in the fall.

While still in high school, she started a non-profit called “Tutoring for Tots.” She volunteered and worked with migrant children and some socio-economically disadvantaged children. The children were in pre-kindergarten, and she worked with them on social and emotional skills, math and reading. One of her favorite success stories was of a little girl who wouldn’t talk to anyone — teachers or students — but because of the work Janae was doing with her, she finally started talking, and Janae loved that her first words were, “My favorite color is purple.”

During high school, Janae received many different awards and recognitions:
• Young Entrepreneurs Academy 3rd Place Investor Panel Winner, 2017
• Harvard Prize Book Recipient, 2017
• Wendy’s High School Heisman School Winner, 2017
• Miami Dolphins Student of the Week, November 2016
• Tri-Cities Education Committee Academic Performance Award, 2014-2017
• Glades Central Community High School Student of the Month, April 2016
• Sunshine State Scholar-Palm Beach County Finalist, 2016

She never slowed down for a minute, and had 1010 volunteer hours under her belt by the time she graduated; and, she was and is a member of many clubs and organizations: Academic Games Team, Bowling Team, Girls’ Team Captain, Early Learning Academy, Student Teacher, Interact Club, National Honor Society, Softball Team, Team Co-Captain, Spanish Honor Society, Community Involvement, Congressman Hastings Volunteer, 2010-Present, Event Speaker, Campaign and Community Events Volunteer, Teach Haiti Volunteer, 2017-Present, Organized volunteer trip to Haiti, Prepare school for upcoming school year, Collect donations/materials to deliver to school, Liberian Medical Relief Volunteer, 2016-Present, Collect book and textbook donations to deliver to Liberia, Hendry County Board of County Commissioners Volunteer, 2011-Present, Senior Citizens Club Volunteer, Florida Thomas Library Tutor, Various Community Events Volunteer, Harlem Tenants Association Volunteer, 2010-Present, Community Clean-up Organizer and Volunteer, Early Learning Academy of Pahokee High School, 2016-2018, Tutor and mentor Pre-K students, Planned Parenthood-Palm Beach Youth Leadership Council, 2017-2018, Raise awareness about issues, Advocate for comprehensive sexual health education, Empower youth to engage in community service, Work with local and state politicians as a youth advocate, Young Entrepreneurs Academy, 2016-2017, Founder and CEO of Tutoring 4 Tots, LLC (not-for-profit organization).

She was recently invited to join two honor societies at the university — The National Society of Leadership and Success and The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and she is the Vanderbilt Housing Floor Rep.

Janae is very passionate about social justice and always wants to help those who may not have a voice. That’s the main reason her major is Political Science and Sociology. She is gearing towards becoming a civil rights attorney. Her mother said even when she was younger, she spent a lot of time helping other children, both younger and her peers.

Although her life has barely begun, she has already made a tremendous impact on the world around her.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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