How this student Shared a Stage with Michelle Obama

When Jenissi Gyan, a seventh grader at Excel Public Charter School, joined her local Girl Scout troop four years ago, she never imagined that her participation would lead her to sharing her future dreams in front of former First Lady Michelle Obama and a sold out crowd of 27,000 at the Tacoma Dome. Obama was in Tacoma as part of her book tour, promoting the recent release of Becoming. Gyan’s troop leader set up a field trip to the event, and in the process, was asked to identify a troop member to represent Western Washington Girl Scouts who would be willing to speak briefly on stage about who she wanted to become.

“My troop leader told me she wanted me to have an opportunity to shine,” shared Gyan. “My mom was really excited for me, and told me this opportunity would benefit me in life and in college.”


Backstage at the event, Gyan got to meet a number of celebrities and inspiring speakers, including music artists Ciara and Eddie Vedder, and professional basketball player Sue Bird. The prompt Gyan was asked to answer on stage, “Who are you becoming?,” caused Gyan to consider her future in a way she hadn’t before. When Gyan stepped on to the stage and began to share that her dream for the future is to become an aerospace engineer for NASA’s Mission Control, the crowd went wild. “That felt unreal,” reflected Gyan.

Excel’s Principal, Andra Maughan, attended the event to cheer her on. “I am beyond proud of Jenissi and the courage it took for her to get in front of thousands of people to share her future goals,” shared Maughan. “At Excel, we believe in developing and empowering future leaders. We need more women leaders in STEAM fields. Jenissi is a bright example of a strong, woman future leader. I know she will do great things.”

Gyan chose to attend a local public charter school because she wanted to be enveloped by a college-going environment, and she’s got her heart set on the University of Washington. “I like the uniforms so I don’t have to think about what I’m going to wear,” chuckled Gyan. Though she’s happy that uniforms cut down on her morning routine, what she likes most about her school is the teachers, especially her computer science teacher Ms. Cosom. “I like how well educated the teachers are and how they really want to teach you, not just go through lessons.” Gyan attributes some of the confidence she displayed at the Tacoma Dome to the presentations she’s been required to do in some of her classes.

At Green Dot, it’s important to all school leaders and educators to make sure our students feel encouraged by their school community when they courageously step into opportunities. Gyan is happy to be at a school that supports her inside and outside of the classroom.