June 16, 2015
Bria L. Hairston is using her Harvest Foundation internship to launch her career goal of helping people and the community.
Hairston, 17, is a full-time intern at the foundation this summer. She is working as an office assistant and helping the staff with projects, including organizing old grant files.
Hairston is the first person most people see when they visit the Harvest office on Church Street. She works at the front desk and greets visitors, connecting them with the staff they are there to see.
"I hope to get a lot of work experience" during her internship, she said.
"Bria is the bright light on our team! She comes to work each day with enthusiasm and the clear desire to contribute. She is organized, focused and eager to tackle anything that is asked of her. She greets everyone with her beautiful smile and she is a true gift both to Harvest and our community," said Harvest President Allyson Rothrock.
Hairston is a familiar face at Harvest. She first landed a job with the foundation in May 2014. She had tutored DeWitt House's son and House, a former Henry County Schools administrator and now Harvest program officer, recommended her for the job.
Hairston worked at the foundation part-time last summer. That left her time for practices with the Magna Vista High School girls basketball team, of which she was a member in grades 9 through 12. She stayed on part-time during the school year before coming on board full time this summer.
"I love the people here. I wanted to be involved in an internship that would help the community. I felt this was the perfect place," Hairston said. "It's always been part of my character to want to help others."
In the future, she hopes to do that as a physician assistant. Her experience job shadowing a physician assistant at Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro, N.C., inspired her to a career in that field.
To start on that path, Hairston will begin classes at Virginia Tech on Aug. 21, her 18th birthday. She admitted to being "nervous but excited" about going to college, but her transition likely will be easier because many of her friends — especially from the Piedmont Governor's School of Math, Science & Technology — are going there as well.
She will major in biology at Tech. After getting her bachelor's degree, Hairston said she will need to complete a two-year program to become a physician assistant. Then, she hopes to return here to work.
Hairston graduated in May from Patrick Henry Community College on May 16 and Magna Vista High School and the governor's school on May 23.
Her three-page résumé is a testament to her desire to excel and serve. She graduated with a 4.5 (weighted) grade point average at Magna Vista and was in the top 10 percent of her class, and she had a 3.5 GPA at PHCC. She was in the National Technical Honor Society, National Society of Black Engineers, BETA Club, Spanish Club and FBLA Club in high school, in addition to playing basketball and taking part in numerous other activities.
She excelled in honors and college preparatory classes in high school and the governor's school, scored 600 on the geometry Standards of Learning test as a 9th grader and participated in a Gifted Advisory Committee with the school superintendent as a 10th grader.
Hairston received the U.S. Army Reserve National Scholar/Athlete award, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Award, Henry County School Board Academic Excellence Award and PHCC Alliance for Excellence Academic Achievement Award.
The girls basketball team was a big part of Hairston's high school career, one that involved nearly year-round practices.
"I liked being around a group of girls that loved to play," said Hairston, a fan of the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals. The Magna Vista girls had "a special bond, like a family."
In her spare time, Hairston volunteered with the pumpkin patch at the First Baptist Church, a community cleanup and Greater Refuge Temple Church. She was on a summer AAU basketball squad and did her senior project in forensic odontology (dentistry). She also worked as an Allstate home inspection reviewer.
Hairston is the daughter of Mark and Toi Hairston of Martinsville. She has three younger brothers and an older sister.
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