If someone were to ask Jefferson Skinner if he would rather be successful as a student, masterful as an artist or exceptional as a global citizen, he would probably ask why he has to choose.
The Cross Creek Early College High School senior is about to start his adult life with a two-year mission in a developing country.
As an eighth-grader, Jefferson was interested in attending the Cumberland International Early College Choice Program because of its emphasis on language studies. However, during a student-led tour of Cross Creek Early College, he says, the warmth shown by the administrators and students instantly made him feel like a member of the Cross Creek family, and he knew that was where he belonged.
“I highly encourage eighth-graders to physically visit the Choice high schools and high school seniors to visit universities. School environment is extremely important and can only be experienced for oneself,” Jefferson says.
That tour was just the start of Jefferson’s school and community involvement. As a Cross Creek student, he participated in the Science Olympiad program and served as a member and president of the student government association. He says it was a valuable opportunity to take on leadership roles, network with other student leaders, and develop academic skills.
“The SGA adviser, Mr. Kenneth Huffman, has made a lasting impression on me,” says Jefferson. “He demonstrates how to effectively lead meetings and motivate individuals. I learned how to delegate work. I also learned how to graciously listen to people and compassionately reject ‘ridiculous’ ideas. These skills will certainly aid me as I continue to serve and lead in my community, church and profession.”
The school encourages volunteering, which Jefferson says opened his eyes to the needs of the community and motivated him to serve. Outside school, he was co-president of his church’s youth council and found volunteer opportunities as the concertmaster and a soloist of the Fayetteville Symphony Youth Orchestra’s string and full orchestras.
“Jefferson is humble and generous and extraordinarily distinguished,” says Cross Creek counselor Gina Hickle. “He is a true standout amongst his peers — motivated and mature with an exceptional global outlook and perspective.”
A community-based accomplishment that Jefferson is particularly proud of is earning the rank of Eagle Scout after serving as a senior patrol leader, completing his Eagle Scout project of building park benches at Carvers Creek State Park, and accruing over 200 community service hours.
Aside from his school and community service, Jefferson works as a team leader at Chick-fil-A while pursuing additional education opportunities. He is a student of the Southern Regional Area Health Education Center’s Teaching Excellence for a Career in Healthcare program, a nine-month pre-professional health-enrichment program, and he has studied biochemistry research at Fayetteville State University.
After graduation, Jefferson will complete a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Mendoza, Argentina. When he returns from this mission, he will attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where he earned the Brigham Young University Academic Scholarship. He will pursue a degree in chemistry. Ultimately, he wants a career in primary care, optometry, family medicine or a related medical field.
Jefferson has this message for future high school students:
“Get involved! There are extraordinary opportunities available through student organizations, sports and volunteering. You can meet incredible people, learn essential leadership characteristics, discover your interests, and build a resume by pursuing membership/participation in groups and events. Seek leadership, volunteer and educational events outside of school. Opportunities abound through churches, businesses, theaters and nonprofit organizations.”
Editor’s note: This is one in a series of stories about the Standout Seniors of 2022 as selected by Cumberland County Schools.