Smithsburg student strives to help others succeed in life

February 18, 2002

Smithsburg student strives to help others succeed in life

Editor's Note: This is the first in a week-long series during National Black History Month recognizing blacks in the area who make a difference in their communities.


Detra Mackey's biggest fear is failure.

"You just have to have your priorities straight," said the 17-year-old senior at Smithsburg High School. "I strive for the best."

Mackey, with a 3.67 grade-point average that has helped her earn a nomination to the National Honor Society, also tries to share her commitment to excellence with others.

She said she wants to help females and blacks be successful in life, and has already started down that path as a volunteer for Girls Inc. in Hagerstown.


"Right now I'm encouraging girls to be strong and have self-pride," she said. "I'm helping girls develop strong minds."

As a volunteer, she talks to adolescents about various teen issues, she said.

In addition, Mackey is a member of the Student Government Association, the prom committee, Future Business Leaders of America and the Spanish Club.

She'll be taking part in the Miss Washington County Pageant Saturday at Hagerstown Community College.

She's also a four-year member of the school's basketball team and is on the track team. She belongs to the Great Commission church in Waynesboro, Pa., and has been part of its youth ministry.

She hopes her mix of interests sends a positive message about the determination of blacks.

"It's really important to show that black people can be smart, and we can be physical," she said. "We can do the things other people can."

She said she encourages other teenagers throughout the community to also get involved with volunteer work.

"It think it's very important because it kind of helps you find out who you are," Mackey said.

Her advice to teens dealing with the pressure of high school is to just "be yourself."

"People will learn to like you," she said. "Who cares what other people think of you?"

After high school, Mackey plans to attend Towson University and major in business and finance or pre-law. She hopes to own a law firm someday, she said.

Aside from her school and community activities, Mackey works at The Children's Place at Prime Outlets in Hagerstown.

She said she keeps a good handle on her many duties, but financing her college education causes her the most worry.

"Sometimes since college is so close, I get stressed out about how to pay for it," Mackey said. "Other than that, I try to just organize myself."

Mackey, the daughter of Deadon and Tina Mackey, has a 12-year-old sister, Deanna, who attends Smithsburg Middle School.

She wants to be a good role model for her sister and takes pride in her heritage, she said.

"I'm proud to be a black American. I think it helped me along the lines and taught me how to be strong."

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