Alsip girl tackles high school work, bullying

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Kyara Rogers won a scholarship from Kohl’s for her work in starting a tutoring program to help fellow students learn Chinese and for her work with anti-bullying programs. | Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media

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Kyara Rogers, 12, has an obvious love of learning.

The Alsip eighth-grader’s goal is “to get all As,” a goal she was willing to sacrifice as a seventh-grader in order to challenge herself.

The recent Kohl’s Cares scholarship recipient was accepted into Chicago’s Lindblom Math and Science Academy in 2010 after testing into the demanding program.

The preteen tackled a high school level curriculum, including the study of Chinese.

“I would have liked all As,” Rogers said. “I had never gotten a B before, so I was very upset. A C broke my heart.”

Others recognized Rogers’ accomplishments as something more than grades.

Carmelita Handy, Rogers’ mother, said her daughter’s language teacher saw a quality in her that drove her to learn the Chinese language and then to help others who “needed extra assistance.”

“Her Chinese teacher applauded Kyara on her efforts to learn and help other students,” Handy said.

Rogers developed and ran an after-school tutoring session twice a week for up to two hours for students who were struggling with the language.

“I did catch on (to Chinese) pretty well because I studied every day,” Rogers said. “Whoever needed help, I would just help them by seeing what their weaknesses and strengths were.”

One of Rogers’ strengths is helping others.

She has been actively involved with the Students That Are Reaching for Success (STARS) program at Parker Community Academy in the Englewood community since fourth grade.

The program is designed to build self-esteem in girls and deals with issues such as bullying.

Rogers became involved in an anti-bullying campaign at Lindblom after a student was bullied through the use of social media. She said class discussions and student initiatives that followed had a “positive impact.”

“We had less people in the office for cyber-bullying and bullying,” Rogers said.

She said she didn’t have to think twice about becoming involved in an anti-bullying program because of her own experiences.

In her fifth-grade year at Lionel Hampton Fine and Performing Arts School in Chicago, Rogers was bullied by an unexpected source — a girl who Rogers thought was a close friend spread lies about her that led to threats from other girls.

But Rogers followed the right course, taking the problem to the adult in her life — her mom — who took it to the principal and then the parents of the offending girls.

Rogers said the lesson, well-learned, is to never keep bullying to yourself. She now encourages other young people to always speak out because the results of bullying can be as serious, she said.

“I feel, since I have encountered bullying, it’s necessary in every school to have an anti-bullying campaign,” she said.

Rogers, one of 11 Chicago-area students chosen out of 35,000 nominees to receive the Kohl’s $1,000 scholarship for her volunteer work, is trying to make the world a better place through her efforts.

Handy said she’s not surprised at her daughter’s accomplishments. She said Rogers tested into gifted programs from her earliest years in school.

Rogers takes it all in stride, planning to “learn more about the law system and how it works and learn more about science, to attend a good college some day — “maybe Stanford” — and embark on a career, perhaps in law.

Her summer camp experiences at Loyola and DePaul’s Law Camp in Chicago has spurred her interest in law. Rogers’ time there also earned her another award, one that made her smile.

“I like arguing with people and defending my point,” Rogers said. “At law camp, I was voted ‘most likely to argue with myself and win.’ ”