Senior Edition 2018: Features
The Truth About Being Bold

Article by Lauren Steele

IMG_5772She wants to see lions. She wants to see Table Mountain and Victoria Falls. She wants to help Africa become a better place.

If money didn’t matter at all, Janesa Barrera would travel the world. She says not having to worry about plane tickets or paying for food would be the best part.

Last year Janesa met a group of South Africans through a work exchange program at Great Wolf Lodge. They soon became her best friends. Since they were only here for a few months, when they had to go back to Africa it was hard for her to watch them leave. She misses them because of how close she had become with them.

If she were to visit Africa she says she would meet up with her old friends and do “touristy” things. She would have them take her to the popular places in Africa so that she’d have the best experience possible. She also would want to help out and do community service while visiting there.

Janesa likely became so close with her friends from Africa because of how good she is at getting people out of their comfort zones. She likes to do “weird stuff”, as she calls it, to get people to open up and become more comfortable. She likes to go up to people she doesn’t know to start a conversation and get to know them, she’s also been known to start dancing randomly, just to be weird or to freak people out.

Janesa’s best friend, Dunia Alkurdi, explains “She’s just a wild soul.”

She also uses lots of sarcasm which draws attention to her. When she says something sarcastic people look at her like she’s crazy. Then she says “just kidding!” and they realize that she’s actually just being funny and they end up having a conversation and often even becoming friends.

“When we’re driving she likes to wave at random people, just to see if they’ll wave back.” says Dunia.  

When she meets someone who is a little shy, she tries to get them talking to get them out of their comfort zone, she may also try to get them to go on an adventure with her.

That’s exactly what she did with Hannah Jones. Janesa recalls, “One night I called her randomly and I was just like ‘I’m coming to pick you up!’ and that’s how our friendship pretty much started.”

Janesa looks forward to figuring out what she’s going to do with her life in the next few years. She’s excited to be on her own and to take care of herself without having anyone to tell her what to do.

Although she looks forward to being independent, she’s actually very close with her parents. She recalls memories from grade school including one from Halloween.

“In first grade my teacher let us dress up one day around Halloween, I was convinced it was a specific day but my mom kept telling me it was the next day. I didn’t believe her and so I dressed up anyways because I didn’t want to be the only one without a costume. Instead I was the only one with a costume. When I got home my mom was like “I told you so.’”

She realizes that she takes for granted how much her parents do for her and says that she’s grateful for how generous they are. She loves how protective and supportive they are. She says that her mom inspires her to be a better person, especially since she has been through so much herself. She believes that if her mom can overcome so much, so can she.

Janesa plans on attending the University of Cincinnati in the fall, she is going to study medical assisting services there with the hopes of one day becoming a nurse.

Before college, she hopes to go out and explore the world. She wants to do things she hasn’t done before and get out of her comfort zone a bit more. Janesa describes her feelings about graduating as bittersweet. “I grew up with these people,” she explains.

Janesa is starting to realize that she’s not going to see the same people that she has gone to school with for 13 years everyday. She says the feeling hasn’t really hit her yet, but she definitely knows that it is coming. While Janesa is sad to leave the people she knows so well, there is no doubt that her sarcasm and outgoing personality will draw new friends to her in college.

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