Student marking off milestones

Rodniqua watches the remainder of a cheerleading competition from the stands following her squad's performance

Christina Elmore/Staff

The St. John’s High School cheerleading squad competing at Stratford High School.

Rodniqua Brothers soon will face one of the biggest milestones in her life: her 18th birthday.

While turning 18 is a big deal in every teenager's life, the St. John's High School senior's excitement is dampened since Nov. 7 falls on a Monday this year.

Despite that little hiccup, Rodniqua said she is still looking forward to the change her birthday represents.

"Of course I was already transitioning into adulthood, but I wasn't legally an adult. It's refreshing, but it's also a little scary. Pretty soon I'm going to be out in the world and I'm not going to be at home anymore. I'm excited, but I don't think I'm really going to feel any different until graduation," Rodniqua said.

Approaching legal adulthood constantly reminds Rodniqua that her high school days soon will come to an end.

That coupled with the fact that she recently cheered at her last regular season high school football game makes that knowledge all the more bittersweet.

"I'm going to miss it. I think I'm going to cry when basketball season ends," she said.

While football season has come to an end, Rodniqua is not quite through with cheering yet.

Her school's squad is participating in several competitions this year, something Rodniqua said is unprecedented for them.

"It would be nice to get a trophy, but this is the first year for any of us at the competition, so we're taking this as a learning experience. ... We've come a long way from where we used to be two or three years ago. Back then, we would have never thought we would be at a competition," she said.

Rodniqua said she thinks competing is bringing the squad and the student body closer together.

"The school is motivating us. One time we were performing at a pep rally and we didn't do as good as we should have. Even though we messed up, they still encouraged us and said that we did a good job. Two or three years ago if we fell, the entire school would have laughed at us," Rodniqua said.

"The girls were the ones that wanted to do it (compete)," said St. John's cheerleading coach Trista Jones following a competition at Stratford High School.

"I have never done competition, so this is my first year ever. I'm learning as much as they are, but we're doing it together. The girls really wanted to do it, so I'm here to make sure that they get to do what they want to do in high school," she said.

November is the start of a relaxing time for Rodniqua, given the break between football and the upcoming basketball season.

She said she plans on devoting this time to college applications.

Between academics and her numerous extracurricular activities, Rodniqua said it can be challenging to find an adequate amount of time to plan for the future.

Filling out applications by hand and mailing them can be a slow process. As a result, she prefers the online approach.

"I find myself rushing a lot. Applications are the first impression that the college will see of you. If you send in an application with not-so-neat handwriting because you were rushing to fill it out, that's not going to reflect well," Rodniqua said.

"If you just have a few minutes to fill out an application, then online is probably the best way to go. It's so much easier and quicker."

In the past month, Rodniqua has applied to Erskine College as well as Clemson, Coastal Carolina, Francis Marion and USC-Upstate.

She plans on visiting Francis Marion on a school trip.

She said the trip is a big help, especially for students who otherwise may not have transportation to tour colleges.

Rodniqua said applying for college has tested her confidence in a number of ways.

Though she maintains a B average, she's shaken by not being one of the top students in her class.

She wonders whether schools will see anything special in her, considering all of the other great students who also are applying.

Rodniqua said she's using her insecurity as motivation to strive to at least be in the Top 10 of her class.

She also acknowledges that her busy schedule might just work in her favor in the end.

"I may not be in the top of my class, but I've learned that academics aren't enough for colleges these days. They want someone who is well-rounded," Rodniqua said. "It's hard being so busy all of the time, but it's good that I can put down a lot of extracurriculars when I'm applying."

Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908.