BRIGHT FUTURES — Tekoa’s Prentice Altaf talks success, wanting to inspire others

Published 12:30 am Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Prentice Altaf believes success is there as long as you reach for it.

And the 17-year-old senior at Tekoa Accelerated Studies T-STEM School is well on her way to success. She’s a member of the National Honor Society, has been enrolled in dual credit studies since the ninth grade, is head drummer for the school’s drum corps, takes part in volunteering and was invited to participate in a leadership program at Harvard University.

While the Harvard experience didn’t happen due to COVID restrictions, had she went she would have had the chance to develop skills in math, science and leadership.

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The program intrigued her for several reasons.

“Just to meet different people from different backgrounds and hear their stories and learn how to communicate better with people outside my comfort zone,” Altaf said.

An all-around strong student, Altaf’s teachers noted her strengths.

Rose Gabud, who teaches government and economics, called Altaf “a multitalented student who is truly commendable for her excellent academic performance, leadership, exemplary character and dedication to serving others within the school. She is truly exemplary.”

Kristofer Cuizon, her English teacher, spoke of Altaf being motivating others while working in a group but also using her instincts with matters independently – all in a positive way.

“She sets an example of excellence in behavior, cooperation and perseverance when facing challenges and difficulties by asking questions and trying her best,” Cuizon said.

Senior Prentice Altaf plans to either attend the University of Miami or Harvard College after graduating from Tekoa Accelerated Studies T-STEM School. (Courtesy photo)

College & beyond

Counting science and biology as her strengths, Altaf is looking to attend either the University of Miami or Harvard College, majoring in biology for career in anesthesiology, she said.

After college she wants to come back and share her experiences with students.

“I could see myself coming back to speak to students around the area and letting them know that it’s a huge world out there and we can do so much more. But we can also come back home and motivate the next generations,” Altaf said.

Role model

Altaf’s SAT-prep teacher Rayen Adams called her a great role model for her peers and “a student who knows the sky is the limit.”

And Adonnia Lowe, district campus administrator, has known Altaf since she enrolled and was actually her first teacher at the school. She said she’s enjoyed watching Altaf bloom into her own through the years.

Altaf spoke of her own role model, her cousin and godmother Reagan Jones.

“I’ve seen people in my family become successful but on the other hand, not so much,” Altaf said. “But with Reagan, she was the first person I saw graduate high school and go straight to college, graduate college. Now she is self-made. She is a head coach, she has her own house and she’s now getting her masters degree all before 30, and that to me is a success story that I can look at and say I can do that.”

Jones is a coach in Richmond, Texas on the outskirts of Houston.

Altaf enjoys poetry, music and dancing – likely taking the poetry and writing bug from her mother and grandmother.

Her mother, Cynthia Victorian, is a published poet, she said. Her grandmother, Ramona Davis, also enjoys writing and instilling motivation.

The high school senior was asked to offer some words of wisdom for other students.

“I just want to let them know your upbringing doesn’t define who you can be,” she said. “Whatever you want to be, don’t let your environment hinder you in any way. Don’t let what anyone else says hinder you, because you can honestly accomplish anything.”

She said her grandmother likes to use scripture, saying, “I can do all things though Christ. That strengthens me.”

“That’s something I believe and I’m so heavy into my work because I know that I can make it out of here and become successful and then come back and help out my community and let other children know there’s so much more to life than Port Arthur,” she said. “And if you want to stay in Port Arthur, there’s so much you can do here, as well. Success is in everything. You just have to reach for it.”