Breauana Duval squeezed mayonnaise on a roll after lining up a foot-long sandwich with ham and cheese.
Her first day at Subway was on Friday in Topeka. Duval is able to start a new job and work on a new set of goals after completing all of her CHS requirements in May, and she awaits the Class of 2020 graduation on July 10 at the Chanute Community Sports Complex.
It’s been a plentiful and a successful few years at CHS for Duval. Not only does Duval, 18, have a 3.73 GPA and a score of 25 on her ACT, but she was the State Champion for yearbook layout and design in her junior year, a State runner-up for copy editing, a State runner-up for Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) biomedical debate in her junior year, an international qualifier at a leadership conference in Orlando, Fla. after speaking about the Opioid crisis her junior year, earned a community service award and a Horatio Alger $10,000 scholarship for her academics, and was a State debater this past year, among many other standout recognitions, awards and accolades.
Duval said she will use these talents and experiences at the University of Kansas, where she will study biology with a focus on becoming a Physician’s Assistant.
Duval has had anything but an ordinary path to academic success. The impassioned debater and speaker has attended schools in Wellsville, Shawnee Mission School District, Paola, and of course Chanute, among other schools. Throughout these moves, she has also been in and out of foster care due to domestic abuse.
Through such harrowing circumstances, the future Jayhawk ascribed her success to a handful of CHS teachers and others in her life who instilled in her characteristics for success. These teachers taught Duval that hard work and dedication leads to hard-earned opportunities.
“I’ve been a very driven person at a very young age. I went through foster care,” Duval said. “I was always told by other people in my life that I wouldn’t get anywhere, and I always felt like I could put my energy towards academics and get there. I would say a lot of the people that influenced that have been teachers.”
The first of those teachers who came to mind is Tonya Frederick, Duval’s former biology teacher. Frederick is also one of the two HOSA advisors.
“She has always been that person to tell me when she may think I’m slacking, or when she thinks I’m doing good,” Duval said. “She’s always willing to pull me aside and tell me, ‘Hey Bre, I don’t think you did as great today. I know you have more potential than this.’ She’s always the kind of person that can see the full potential. She’s really passionate about what she does. She helped spark my passion for medicine. And she helped spark my passion for the love of science.”
Another teacher who was influential in her time at CHS is Dustin Fox, her newspaper teacher. Duval said Fox was one of the first teachers at the high school to believe in her, so much so that the instructor and girls basketball coach put her in a leadership position as an editor for the school paper.
“He was like, ‘I like what you do, I really like your story ideas and your work,’” she recalled. “...Journalism has always been something I have been passionate about. I really like it. It’s a great activity for me. I always have these ideas, and I talked to him about it. And he would be like, ‘Absolutely agree, jump on, go for it, I’m going to support you.’ And it’s not just me, it’s any student. He’s really shown me how to be a leader. And he’s really shown me how to pursue what I’m passionate about ... He’s a great teacher, a great leader, a great coach. He’s helped me with life skills, in and out of the classroom.”
Fox said he marveled about how Duval was able to make such a seamless transition from newspaper to yearbook, as she had always been in newspaper. Still, Duval won a State title in yearbook layout.
“It was something totally new that she jumped into, learned through trial and error, and excelled at,” Fox said of his former student. “I’m definitely proud of her and impressed by her drive. Bre is a prime example that your circumstances don’t have to define you. She wasn’t dealt the easiest hand in life, but she has succeeded anyway.”
Another noteworthy person in her life is Eric Holmes, her foster dad while she was in high school, who also happens to teach math at CHS. A proponent of “being the best version of yourself” and delivering the unvarnished truth, Duval said Holmes was instrumental in pushing her to do well in math. If Holmes thought Duval could do better, he would make sure to tell her.
“When I was living with him, he was always a person to call me out on my stuff,” Duval added. “(He) really helped me appreciate my value, and helped me see my self-worth. A lot of the guidance I got from him, it was a really good experience.”