With so many school choice options available to families today, deciding where to attend high school can be tough. For Kaci Anderson, the decision to switch from a private to public school was easy after she visited Dallas ISD’s Innovation Design Entrepreneurship Academy (IDEA) and learned about the school’s personalized learning model, NAF Academy, small class sizes, and opportunities for real-world experience.
Not only has IDEA impacted and shaped Anderson into the person she is today, but she has impacted and shaped her high school as well. Anderson has served as student council president all four years and is chapter president of the National Society of Black Engineers; is an active member and competitor in DECA; a member of the Boys and Girls Club; planned multiple campus events and field trips; traveled with her school to Paris for an EF Educational Tour; and started a Black Excellence Student Club to help provide a safe space for people of color to just be themselves.
“I took on these roles to be the voice of the voiceless,” Anderson said of why she is involved in so many leadership positions on her campus. “I’m not afraid to take on challenges, and I want to help the kids who feel like they never had the chance to be heard.”
Anderson is passionate about encouraging those around her to have difficult conversations in regard to race and bias.
“I think if people just sat down and really listened to each other, it would help so much,” she shared. “What you say, and your actions as well, really have a deep impact. Words can be either positive or negative. You’re either speaking life or the opposite.”
A highlight from her time in IDEA’s NAF Academy was serving as a student moderator for the NAF Town Hall: Racism Beyond Criminal Injustice, which was sponsored by Verizon earlier this year. To learn more about that webinar, click here.
Another highlight for Anderson was landing an internship with PCCI, a leading nonprofit affiliated with Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas. She joined a team of medical professionals tracking and analyzing COVID-19 cases in the Dallas region to advise the Dallas County health system in monitoring trends and establishing guidelines.
In an article Anderson wrote for the online publication Getting Smart, she shared:
Currently, the healthcare industry is extremely lacking in diversity, even though it serves diverse populations. As of 2018, more than 77% of advanced nurse practitioners were white, according to U.S. census data. Less than 7% were Black. This does not come close to reflecting our demographics. Here in Dallas, for example, most residents—71%—are people of color.
My generation faces one of the most daunting job markets in history. Last April, the unemployment rate among Black workers was nearly 17% compared to a white unemployment rate of 14%. The unemployment rate among Latinx workers was nearly 19%.
While this reality feels bleak, I am optimistic about my future because I was given the chance to explore career options and learn a variety of skills at an early age. Having the NAF advantage will prime me to achieve my dreams later in life while giving back to my community.
To read Anderson’s full article in Getting Smart, click here.
Anderson’s internship experience solidified her decision to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner, and she plans to open her own nursing practice one day. She was accepted into 11 universities and received a total of $500,000 in scholarship offers, including the Dallas ISD’s Superintendent’s Scholarship. This fall, Anderson will attend Regis University in Denver and be a part of their accelerated nursing program.
With much to look forward to as she prepares to graduate, she is thankful for the incredible opportunities she’s had while attending IDEA, as well as her amazing teachers.
“Ms. Phillips, Mr. McDowell, Ms. Allen and Ms. Stone, thank you so much for all that you have done,” Anderson shared in a special shout-out. “You have impacted more students than you know.”
To learn more and apply to Innovation Design Entrepreneurship Academy, visit dallasisd.org/IDEA.