Richton Park teen plans to become environmental lawyer
BY CHERYL DANGEL BARTOLINI Correspondent March 14, 2014 11:12AM
Alexus Newson plans to become an environmental lawyer. She is a senior at Southland College Prep Charter High School in Richton Park. | Supplied photo by John Smierciak
Updated: April 18, 2014 6:02AM
Alexus Newson, a senior at Southland College Prep Charter High School in Richton Park, has a passion for acting and science.
And she’s found a way to combine the two.
Newson discovered while she was a freshman that she had a love for science, specifically biology and “anything having to do with the environment,” she said.
Then she was exposed to acting and was torn between two loves.
“I love acting and anything having to do with acting. I used to act in school and church plays,” said Newson, 18.
She credits her mentor, Maria Bryant, one of her grade school teachers and the former choir and performing arts director in Matteson School District 162, with inspiring her.
“She started a performing arts program at Rich South High School when I was in the seventh grade, then she moved to Orlando and we’ve kept in touch,” Newson said. “She really expanded my horizons with acting. She gave me the opportunities to be in the choir and develop my acting skills further. Before she was my teacher, I was involved with acting but not as heavily. She cultivated my skills in the art. She’s been my life mentor and performing arts mentor.”
Bryant likely would be proud of her prodigy. As a junior at Southland College Prep, Newson, a resident of Richton Park, together with her partner and fellow senior, Morgan Brown, of Matteson, took first place in the Dramatic Duet Acting section of the Illinois High School Association state speech tournament.
“Bringing home this three-year-old school’s very first No. 1 state championship in any IHSA-sanctioned performance or athletic event is a fine accomplishment for these very talented young people and their dedicated coaches,” Southland College Prep CEO Blondean Davis said.
In addition, previously the pair performed a piece entitled, “Saturday Night/Sunday Morning” and took first place in the Dramatic Duet Acting Section of the Southland College Prep Regional, and then placed second at the Reavis Sectional, which sent them to the state finals.
“To me, it isn’t about winning,” Newson said. “The main thing I enjoy is coaching the novices to develop their skills and start them from the beginning. Another thing I love is that I get to listen to so many stories from people and I get to tell my story to people and touch their heart. I love being able to share my story and develop my communication skills further.”
That’s a good thing because Newson aspires to become an environmental lawyer.
To that end, she attended a “Lead America Law and Mock Trail Conference” at Stanford University over summer vacation before her junior year. She was chosen to role-play the defense attorney and got to present the closing argument in the trial.
“My goal is to go to Stanford to study environmental science or studies, and after college, go to law school and become an environmental lawyer,” said Newson, who has not yet finalized her choice of college.
This way, she will be able to combine her love of science with talent for public speaking.
At Southland College Prep, in addition to the speech team, Newson, the daughter of Valerie and Rudy Newson, is a member of the National Honor Society and Interact Club.
What keeps her going?
“My motivation,” she said. “If I wasn’t as motivated as I have been, I would not be as focused as I am. My parents keep me on task as well as the people I hang around with. But I’m my own motivator. I have a motivation to do better and be successful in the future.”