By Eliott Rodriguez

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Chasity Hale was a young girl when she underwent a tracheotomy and several laser surgeries.

There were complications so she says she turned to writing as an easier way to express herself.

“This is my portfolio from sixth grade, it represents growth and it makes me wistful looking back on it. There are lots of memories and I love looking back and reading different pieces from when I was in sixth grade and see how much I’ve improved,” said Hale.

We caught up with Hale as she was preparing to graduate from Miami Arts Charter School.

A special moment for her as she looked back on the last seven years of her time at the school where she was part of the creative writing program.

“I am a writer, I love the arts but I also love different subjects like philosophy, calculus, environmental science,” said Hale.

The Miami graduate was one of eight students in the entire country awarded a gold medal by the prestigious Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards program for her poetry portfolio. She’s a national student poet as well.

“I worked very hard on my portfolio. I was very careful about the pieces that I chose I had a theme and it was very exciting for me

I was inspired by my love for interdisciplinary studies,” said Hale.

The teen also credits her success to her creative writing teacher and mentor, Jen Karentick.

“Chasity was one of those kids who had something that I thought she could be a writer. She could do this but she needed to improve her grammar. Then there was something that happened to her in 7, 8 and 9th grade and she took it upon herself to improve and when I saw her doing that I knew she was going to be a writer.

Karetnick says Chasity committed herself to educating herself. “She was teaching herself grammar, she was doing the reading on her own, Chasity is one of those poets and writers who has been noticed consistently throughout the years because her writing is good and as she has gotten older, it’s grown. She has a mature voice and the way she uses language has an older soul about it and she’s really intelligent,” said Karetnick.

During her time in high school Hale was also invited to take part in the National Students Program where she was invited to the White House. As part of the program, she led writing workshops for students in the southeast region including Georgia and Florida.

Hale credits her growth to her teacher and mentor, Karetnick, who she warmly calls Miss K.

“Miss Karetnick has been the most incredible teacher that I have ever had. Since the sixth grade she has given myself and my peers all kinds of wonderful advice that I’m going to take with me for the rest of my life. She always tells us to fill the well which means to go out and find valuable experiences that we can write about and that has just influenced me so much,” said Hale.

We also visited Chasity recently while she was packing for her next journey. She’s been accepted this fall to study at Stanford University. She says she will most likely major in political science and minor in creative writing.

She also hopes to join the Stanford Writing Society and then maybe fit in the running club as well.

“I’m so proud of her that you know I’m going to miss her. I think she exemplifies to younger kids Oh my God she achieved so much and I can do it too,” said Karetnick.

Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards is currently accepting new submissions for 2018.

For more information go to www.artandwriting.org

If you are a mentor and would like to share your story with us, please email us at mentoringmatters@cbs.com

We have a list of organizations if you are interested in becoming a mentor.

Click here for more Mentoring Matters

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