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DPS Notable Yanice Gibson, Middle College Graduate: Aiming for Extraordinary

Ask recent Middle College graduate Yanice Gibson her plans now that she’s earned an Associate degree, and she’ll tell you of her desire to earn another Associate’s, engage in a four-year course of study as a scholar of cryptic language, then travel the world so that she can expand her impact on others. This is the very goal that drives her toward success.

Through a program called Verto Education, which will allow her to earn credit while traveling abroad, she will travel to Spain to study business for a semester. After completing that program, she will enlist in the Air Force for three to four years and earn a second Associate degree.  Yanice then plans to return to school for her bachelor’s degree in Business. She hopes to jump-start her career with Cisco, and also hone her entrepreneurial skills to begin a career in real estate.

While she plans to make many memories, she credits the ones she’s made as a DPS student with furthering her success and developing her character. She is particularly thankful for the impact her National Honor Society experience has made on her. After she was nominated and earned her membership into the Honor Society, she was intent on leaving a legacy by prioritizing diversity within the organization from a leadership perch. Overcoming her self-described low self-esteem, she became the chapter’s president. What happened during her tenure proves to be her fondest memory, she says.

She said the chapter raised more than $1,100 to fight against menstrual poverty thanks to a team that provided “amazing” support. The project’s goal is to manufacture feminine hygiene care packages and donate them to a non-profit organization in need. 

“I am proud to represent Durham Public Schools as a part of my mission to innovate, lead, and to make a change especially with being a part of the National Honor Society,” she said.

The change she wishes to enact and see is broken generational curses, said Yanice, who has suffered abuse, anxiety, experienced financial instability, and a lack of resources. 

“I've had a difficult time in school. I’ve tried my best but life gets in the way,” she said.

Yanice enrolled in Middle College for her junior year after being homeschooled. She said she was trying to find ways “to develop my future” and heard about Middle College. After speaking with a Middle College representative, she was convinced that the small classes, the opportunity to take college courses, and the potential to save money were good reasons to attend.

“This was a great place for me,” she said.

Yanice said she’s probably attended nine to 12 schools, which impacted her personally and academically, she said.  

“I never really got to have a community and every time I would build a community, I would have to leave very soon. My communication skills and constant movement negatively affected her,” said Yanice, who has a total of 11 siblings.

At times, she has been in the foster system. She also had a brief stint in a boarding school and has lived with other family members as well.

“Moving around a lot and having to be by myself, I didn’t really get a lot of support, so when I was at schools, that’s how I felt that I could find support– through the schools, through the people, getting involved in clubs, and just trying to really establish my place in society because I wanted to be more than just a person who goes to the school. I found my family at the schools that I went to,” said Yanice.

She also said she found her strength through the trials she experienced.

“For a long time, I didn’t know who I was. But now I know that life is about establishing who you are in society, and making your mark,” she said.

Yanice said her principal, Crystal Taylor-Simon, has been a consistent support in her life through the schools.

“She is really amazing. She really supports us as a whole. I love how she keeps in contact with the students,” said Yanice of her school leader.

With supportive friends and educators, Yanice has learned how to overcome her challenges and has the following advice for her younger counterparts: “Find your fire. Ask yourself what provokes you to accomplish your dream. Find this answer and take advantage of every opportunity–big or small–to transform that dream into a reality, and once you do that, continue to innovate and produce.”

Like any humanitarian, Yanice is determined to continue leaving things better than she finds them.

“As I grew up, I became more knowledgeable about what was happening, and made it my adamant obligation to fight against the lower statistics surrounded by African Americans succeeding–or more so thriving in life, financially, mentally, and physically. I saw my family’s struggle, but I persevered through the abuse, inconsistency, and so forth, and will continue to do so to produce results so magnificent that even I would be surprised at what I accomplished, and how many people I was able to be a resource to.”

In short, she simply asserts, “you don’t want to be ordinary.”


*Yanice graduated from Middle College High School on Wednesday, May 24, 2023