WIGGINS, MS (WLOX) - A Stone County teen is receiving big recognition for the impact she makes on her community. Sidney Brown is a semi-finalist for the Military Child of the Year award.
Brown's accomplishments at Stone High include being the founder of the Spanish Club and class president. Brown's determination to excel comes from her brother.
"My brother was my biggest cheerleader, so I want to make him proud," Brown said. "I've done sports, I've joined clubs, I've done choir and I've done all this because I know my brother's watching me and I want to make him proud."
But Sidney's brother Dakota Rodgers isn't physically around to encourage her. Dakota was a standout football player at Stone High and went on to join the Army. Dakota ended his life when he was 20-years-old. Despite her loss, Sidney presses forward.
"Growing up he always wanted me to look beyond where I'm at," said Brown. "If I feel down I'm like okay Dakota wouldn't want you to be sad and so he really is a big motivating factor in my life."
Stephanie Bailey is Sidney's teacher, but it's Bailey who's learning how to deal with life's obstacles from Sidney.
"It doesn't stop her, it doesn't tear her character down, it builds her character," Bailey said.
Now Sidney is using her life experiences to shape her goals. She plans to attend medical school and eventually take part in research focusing on mental illness.
"I really want people to be able to come to me and talk about stuff like that if they have mental illness," Brown said. "I know multiple people in the communities that I been in that have these issues and my ultimate goal would be to work on a team that comes up with a program or medicine, something to help these people."
With her brother serving as inspiration, Sidney's goal of helping others is on it's way to becoming a reality.
"I've always set goals for myself," Brown said. "I have a wall in my room where I've written everything down that I want to complete and I've almost completed the whole thing except for the college and the medical field stuff. So those are the last few boxes and I just want to put that check."
Operation Homefront gives the Military Child of the year award to six military children every year, one for each branch of the military. Sidney's father serves in the Navy. If Sidney is selected she'll be honored in April during a ceremony in Washington, DC.