May 22, 2014 in Washington Voices

Driven to make most of busy life

By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photoBuy this photo

Kendra Canton of Rogers High School plans to pursue a major in pharmacy at college.
(Full-size photo)

Kendra Canton is a young woman with boundless energy, a busy life and some grown-up responsibilities – all of which she handles with grace and a strong sense of faith, believing that God hasn’t given her anything she can’t face.

“I believe I have a good relationship with God even though I am really busy,” said the 18-year-old Rogers High School senior, whose greatest pleasure is hanging out with family and friends, although still “very attached to my cellphone.”

Canton, who is graduating with a 3.9 GPA, is historian for the Associated Students at Rogers, vice president of the National Honor Society, a captain of the track and field team, a participant in cross country and was also a basketball and volleyball player through her junior year (giving up the latter two sports this year in order to keep up with her advanced placement and honors classes). And she is on the Link crew, a mentoring program for incoming freshmen. She has been a member of Morning Star Baptist Church since she was a child.

When she was 4, her parents divorced and she and her mother moved in with her grandparents. A younger sister, Kortney, now 6, came into the family, and once her grandparents died and some difficult times arrived, Canton assumed daytime responsibility for her sister – picking her up after school, helping with homework and general care until their mother comes home from work. She has maintained a good relationship with her father and is grateful for the closeness and support of both parents.

But she recognizes the financial struggles they have had in life and in trying to provide for her the things she has needed. She remains focused, motivated and driven to get a good education to help provide a better life for her whole family.

“I always do my homework before anything else, going out or anything. I can’t tell you how much I love school.”

Nominated by her school, she is a Spokane Scholar (in history), an organization recognizing excellence in academics since 1993. She has earned scholarships and plans to attend either Washington State University or the University of Washington this fall, likely majoring in pharmacy. Canton was also accepted at several historic black colleges and universities but elected to remain closer to home for her undergraduate degree, partly for cost reasons and partly because of distance.

“WSU and the UW are far enough away so I can grow up and mature with a bit of distance from my family, but close enough that I can come home if I’m needed,” she said. “However, I am interested in my heritage, learning more about it and having the experience of seeing people who look like me every day.” She hopes she may be able to attend a historic black college for graduate work.

“I believe God has blessed me with my intelligence and believe as well that if you have passion for something, you can achieve what you work for.” And so, as the first in her family to go on for a four-year college degree, she is laser-focusing her formidable energy on education.

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