Student of the Year Je’Nya Ketchens inspires through leadership – L’Observateur

EDGARD — West St. John Grade 12 student of the year Je’Nya Ketchens strives to be a role model who inspires her peers.

Known for being warm, dependable, and bright, Ketchens are a part of virtually every after-school group on campus. She participates in robotics and DECA, in addition to cheerleading, softball and volleyball. However, her leadership abilities shine through in her role as president of the Senior Beta Club and the West St. John’s Student Government Association.

The Student Government Association is a new group on campus, and it’s an area where Ketchens feels she has had an impact.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Ketchens helped facilitate a partnership between the SGA and the West St. John Civic Association to secure the necessary funding for return decorations and restoration. Funding also helped organize spirit of reunion week activities on campus.

“This is the first year that we have had a student government. This is something our teacher, Ms. Darville, came up with because the students all wanted to have their say. This committee should help us feel that we have a voice and that we can make a difference. It strengthened the spirit of the school,” Ketchens said. “My role is to hear what everyone wants, organize it and bring it to them.”

Ketchens was recently recognized by the St. John’s Parish School Board as a West St. John Star Student along with rookie Jayla Ezidore and junior Skylar Edwards. Principal Claude Hill said the three young women had been selected as eighth graders in their cohort and were all leaders among their peers.

“They are polite, respectful and exceptional people,” Hill said.

Eleventh grader Skylar Edwards said she looked up to Ketchens as a role model. Ketchens’ ability to balance studies with extracurricular activities motivated her to join the track for the first time this year.

“I saw the extracurricular activities she had, and I always wanted to be that star student with good grades and athleticism,” Edwards said. “If Je’Nya can do it, I can do it too.”

Ketchens said her mother, Zelda Ketchens, always pushed her to get involved in school and get good grades to open doors for the future. Regardless of the encouragement she receives, Ketchens is focused and driven, knowing that she is responsible for her own success in life.

After high school, Ketchens plans to attend Southeastern Louisiana University or Southern University to major in business management. After earning her business degree, her next step is to attend the Aveda Institute in New Orleans to earn a cosmetology license.

Cosmetology has been her passion since she was a little girl playing with makeup bags.

“Having my license will allow me to have my own hair and makeup studio,” Ketchens said. “I’ve always wanted to have my own business, so I won’t have to work for anyone. I want to work on my free time.

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