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Senior picked as a Black History Maker of Tomorrow

Grand Rapids — Beneath the somewhat shy demeanor of Ottawa Hills High School senior Janaysha Miller, there’s a sense of excitement about the future. 

That excitement is well-deserved. In February, Janaysha was named a Black History Maker of Tomorrow by McDonald’s. The award is for seniors whose actions uplift others and have a positive impact on their community.

“I feel good,” Janaysha said. “It’s satisfying. It’s good that, out of all the students, that I was picked.”

Janaysha was one of five Michigan students to receive the award, which comes with a $1,000 scholarship. 

She was nominated by Ottawa Hills’ Dean of Students Chad Randolph. In addition to a strong GPA and a positive attitude, ideal candidates also needed to show a balance of priorities between school, family, employment and volunteering.

Janaysha Miller played on the Ottawa Hills High School basketball team and also serves as student council president (courtesy)

“Janaysha fits many of these qualities and more in the school,” Randolph said, adding that the senior is student council president, played on the basketball team and helped with the school’s Black History Month programming.

“She works hard and believes education is the key to her future,” he said. 

Principal Tim Mabin concurred.

“She’s been a cornerstone of somebody who’s done hard work and done what she needed to do to be successful,” Mabin said.

He added that Janaysha “really represents the top-tier students at our school.” 

“I’m just excited that she got recognized for that and got the opportunity to get the money that will hopefully be supportive as she goes toward her post-secondary goals,” he said.

Regarding what comes next, Janaysha is still thinking things through. She’s undecided about which college to attend, but knows she wants to become a teacher.

“I love kids,” she said.

Spanish teacher Amber Cain’s mentorship has been an inspiration, and helped show Janaysha that good teachers are “what kids need in their life.”

Read more from Grand Rapids:
Zoo School ‘stays exciting’ after first 50 years
What MLK means to them: sixth-graders channel civil rights leader

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Riley Kelley
Riley Kelley
Riley Kelley is a reporter covering Cedar Springs, Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids and Sparta school districts. An award-winning journalist, Riley spent eight years with the Ludington Daily News, reporting, copy editing, paginating and acting as editor for its weekly entertainment section. He also contributed to LDN’s sister publications, Oceana’s Herald-Journal and the White Lake Beacon. His reporting on issues in education and government has earned accolades from the Michigan Press Association and Michigan Associated Press Media Editors. Riley’s early work in journalism included a stint as an on-air news reporter for WMOM Radio, and work on the editorial staff of various student publications. Riley is a graduate of Grand Valley State University. He originally hails from western Washington.


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