Daneli may seem shy at first, but sitting down to have a conversation with her, you can see why she is made to be an OP scholar. Daneli is a 7th grader at St. Lawrence and lives in Imperial Housing Development with her mother and sister, Siaris, who is also an OP student. She was introduced to OP last year through two Community Safety Project officers who mentored her in an Imperial youth golfing program.
Daneli, who has been with OP for a year, is quick on her feet, clever, and intelligent. She mentions that since attending St. Lawrence, she has learned and experienced so much more with the opportunities OP provides than she would have otherwise. She also recognizes that teachers require her to be more responsible than before, and so she works hard to meet their expectations. Most importantly, Daneli has made great friends at St. Lawrence and feels good about the fact that her family no longer has to worry about her being bullied or being in an unsafe environment when she goes to school every day.
Instead of consuming herself with the negative influences around her, Daneli will find pleasure with books, and spends time outside playing with friends almost every single day. With OP, she has been involved in the arts, community service, tutoring, horseback riding, and the Sisters for Success peer group.
Even though she lives in a community full of turmoil and gloominess, she doesn’t let her physical surroundings discourage her short and long term goals. Daneli has thrived academically while at St. Lawrence, and when she grows up, her dream is to be a police officer. Most would not expect to hear that from a child growing up in a neighborhood such as Watts, but she has not let anyone change her mind yet. She recalls that at her previous school, a teacher had told her she should not be a police officer because they were violent and that she should not carry weapons. However, Daneli insisted that a police officer’s role is to ultimately uplift the community and its residents. She gives credit to Officers Coughlin and Ortiz for being positive role models in her life and encouraging her to follow her dream of being a cop.
Daneli’s story highlights the impact that our LAPD mentors can make on students, and shows us the ability of youth to achieve great things, even in rough circumstances.