At age 10, Justyce Szikszai's family drove north from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in search of a better school district.
The Szikszai (pronounced "six-eye") family did not have a particular destination in mind. Justyce's grandmother, who lived in Anderson, S.C., suggested the family get off at Interstate 77 Exit 23 in North Carolina, because she had heard good things about the area.
Though they had never been to Huntersville, they ended up settling down in the Cedarfield neighborhood.
Not long after moving here, Justyce's mother, Jennifer, started Girl Scout Troop 378, part of the Charlotte-area Hornet's Nest Council. The troop started with Justyce and her best friend, who also had moved to Huntersville from Fort Lauderdale.
Another girl from south Florida connected with the troop, and together they went from being Daisies to Brownies to Juniors. They continued through the Cadette level and are now Senior Girl Scouts.
Justyce is a sophomore and varsity cheerleader at Hopewell High School. She recently won an appointment to serve in the N.C. Governor's Page Program in Raleigh during Girl Scout Week, March 7-15.
Her selection for the page program was based on her grade-point average, strong academics, 11 years in Girl Scouting, significant volunteer hours and superior recommendations from the principal and counselors at her school. She will represent Mecklenburg County in the halls of state government for the week.
The Governor's Page Program was established in 1973 and runs year-round. It provides an opportunity for high school students to spend a week in Raleigh and learn about the roles and functions of state government.
Each week, pages are assigned to a cabinet-level agency or Council of State office within the state government complex to help employees with various tasks.
In addition to their daily responsibilities, pages get to meet the governor, attend news conferences, participate in service projects and tour historic landmarks, including the State Capitol, the Legislative Building, the Executive Mansion and the N.C. Supreme Court.
Justyce said she is thrilled with the opportunity and will proudly represent Huntersville and Hopewell High School. Those who know her are not at all surprised she had won this honor.
A member of the Cedarfield Sharks swim team, Justyce also plays volleyball and has a 4.25 GPA, ranked 10th academically in her class of 460 at Hopewell, while taking Advanced Placement courses.
Earlier this year, Justyce also was chosen to work on an archaeological dig performed by the state of Virginia.
She is in the Duke University Talent Identification Program, which identifies exceptionally bright children, provides resources to nurture their development and gives them a chance to learn more about their abilities.
This remarkable, ambitious, focused and charming 15-year-old will spend her spring break volunteering with City Impact Ministries, repairing homes and tutoring children in coal-mining communities in West Virginia.
Her parents, Mark and Jennifer Szikszai, cannot help but be proud of their daughter's accomplishments. They plan to celebrate her 16th birthday by attending her first Broadway show in New York City.
Justyce, who was named after her mother's college major, hopes to attend Duke University. I have no doubt she will be successful in all her endeavors.