The Odessa Record -

Grabbing life by the horns at age 15


February 21, 2019

Leo's Photography

I first met Charleigh Cornett when she was a cute, freckle-faced eight-year-old with a brilliant smile and an adventurous spirit. From that very first meeting I had a friend. Since she loves to cook, I was able to get to know her a little when we visited two to five minutes at a time at the grocery store check-out counter.

Fast-forward seven years and that cute freckle-faced girl has grown into a beautiful high-school freshman who plays volleyball, is on the track & field team, plays flute in the band and participates in FBLA. She still has a brilliant smile and has not lost her adventurous spirit. The one thing that is different is that Charleigh is starting to take charge of her own future.

It all started last year when Charleigh's mom Miranda Taylor sent her to Envision EMI's National Youth Leadership Forum STEM program, which allows students to explore careers in medicine, robotics, civil engineering and forensic science. Charleigh was able to do some things in the medical field that got her excited to become a surgeon. In September, Charleigh's mom received an email from the same program saying she had been nominated by Larry Weber to represent Odessa and attend the Forum's medical program.

After looking into it further, she and her mom decided on the Advanced Medicine & Health Care Program, with the condition she do some fundraising to help cover some of the out-of-pocket costs. In this program, students spend 10 days on the Johns Hopkins University campus in Baltimore, Md., participate in a first-responder simulation, perform hands-on guided examinations through the University of Maryland's (Eastern Shore campus) Gross Anatomy Laboratory and receive a "Stop the Bleed" certification upon completion.

Charleigh and her mom discussed possible fundraising options with Suzie Deife (one of Charleigh's favorite people), including her recent sales of Krispy Kreme donuts. She also talked to Zach Schafer about the possibility of a fundraiser dinner at the brewery. She will also provide coffee and donuts with the help of EMTs during the White Knuckle/Frostbite races, as well as serving breakfast that same weekend. For the Desert 100 weekend, she is looking to provide a simple breakfast and find volunteers willing to help her, because her mother will be busy as part of the Odessa ambulance crew that weekend.

Charleigh said the way her mom figured it, with air fare, tuition and other various fees, the total amount needed by June for her to be able to participate in the program is right at $7,200. She is going to be extremely busy with fundraising for the next few months. Then on the same day that the FBLA teams fly home from the National Leadership Conference, she will board a different plane to Baltimore to spend 10 days attending the program. Upon completion of the program, she will travel to Washington, D.C. for an additional three days of touring medical facilities before flying back to Washington state. Instead of going home to Odessa, she will go straight from the airport to Gonzaga University for a four-day volleyball camp, with a possible week off before attending another four-day volleyball camp at Whitworth University.

Charleigh says, "It's going to be super crazy! I won't see my mom or home for like three or four weeks! I'm hoping I can raise all the money I need to go, so it's easier on my mom! I am so thankful for everyone's help!"

So far with both Krispy Kreme sales and various donations, Charleigh has raised about $834 to go towards her goal of $7,200. That leaves another $6,366 to be raised by June in order for her to attend the NYLF Advanced Medicine & Health Care Program.

I believe she will do just that. Meeting Charleigh, one can sense her positive energy, determination and drive. A bit of advice I offered to help her get through the upcoming adventure was, "Have fun, but don't forget to breathe."

Those who would like to help Charleigh meet her goal of attending the NYLF program can go to the website or make a deposit in her name at Washington Federal Bank.

She has also created a Facebook page to chronicle her journey at

Envision EMI is a privately held, for-profit, tuition-based education company that creates, markets and runs career exploration and leadership development programs for students in elementary school through college.[1] The company manages 20 unique summer educational programs.


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