COLUMBIA — Myah McCrary's smile couldn't get any bigger. Her bubbly personality shines as she talks excitedly about a recent trip she took to Paris with two of her best friends, Anna Brugmann and Alexis Collins.
"It was one of the most amazing places," McCrary said. She and her friends stayed with McCrary's uncle and aunt, who were renting an apartment in Paris at the time.
Life has been fast and fun for McCrary lately, but don't be confused by her red floral-print sundress or her happy-go-lucky attitude. This girl means business.
McCrary, who graduated from Hickman High School in the spring, received the Outstanding Service and Community Youth Achievement Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She accepted the award at the Freedom Fund Banquet held last month in Columbia.
The award, given to only one youth each year, honors strong academics and involvement in the community, as well as overall character. It distinguishes an individual who is a leader within their community; "a person you would be proud to represent you," said Mary Ratliff, president of the Missouri and Columbia NAACP.
Ratliff described McCrary as an "overall American girl" that she sees going far in life.
McCrary joined the NAACP in eighth grade. Her mother and brother were already part of the organization, which led her to become involved. She became president of the NAACP Columbia Youth Branch a year after joining the group. She lead the group for four years.
She said she became president to be more involved in the organization. The youth branch typically helps out with fundraisers, hold awareness events and spread the word about the NAACP.
"I like to lead," she said, adding that she saw the position as a way to help others, something she strives to do in her daily life.
The president of the youth branch acts as a go-between person for the adult and youth branches.
McCrary also took a leadership position at her high school, where she was elected student body president during her senior year.
McCrary's mother, Martha Tomlin-McCrary, described her daughter as giving, caring and intelligent. Myah McCrary said those are the traits that led her to seek leadership roles at school and with the NAACP. She said she wanted things to be fair for all students, and that she encouraged her peers to excel. It was important to McCrary to motivate her fellow students.
McCrary participated in nine other organizations while in high school. They included Mu Alpha Theta, a math honor society, and her personal favorite, Dumbledore's Army, a group of Harry Potter fans enjoying each other's company.
While balancing all these different activities and leadership roles might seem difficult, McCrary said time management was her primary challenge. School always came first, though.
"The first thing she did when she got home was hit the books," her mother said.
Through all of her hard work, McCrary maintained a positive attitude, Ratliff said. That hard work in high school has paid off. She is now eagerly awaiting the fall, when she will attend MU. She said she dreams of being a cardiothoracic surgeon.
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