A native of New Jersey, Lisa Conforti now considers Brevard her home. She and her family moved here four years ago, when Lisa was entering her freshman year of high school.
At first she felt isolated. She planned to leave as soon as she could and was suffering what she describes as "an existential crisis."
However, she had displayed an impressive level of tenacity at an early age: she was in special education classes in grade school, and when told by a teacher that she simply would not be able to do regular schoolwork, she took it as a challenge. She banished the feeling of worthlessness, which had come from her perceived inability and replaced it with a determination to prove that she could do the work.
She was very successful. She graduated this year from Brevard High School with a grade point average of 4.3, and she was Homecoming Queen.
Conforti's challenges did not come only from hearing that she could not achieve things. When she was in her sophomore year at Brevard High, she and her younger brother were hit by a car when getting off a school bus in front of Connestee Falls. Lisa suffered a fractured nose, a concussion, and compartment syndrome in her leg. Her brother had a fractured skull. Luckily her younger sister was not hit.
After the physical problems were resolved, Lisa still suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder. The reaction of the Brevard community in the aftermath of the accident, however, made Lisa's recovery easier. People were very concerned and helpful and went out of their way to make sure Lisa and her family had the support they needed. People in Transylvania County "genuinely care, and sometimes that's all a person needs to succeed," she said.
Now she wants to give back. She has volunteered at Pisgah Forest Elementary School for the Kindergarten Summer Reading Program, at the Pisgah Conservatory Ranger Station and at the White Squirrel Festival. She has worked as a server at College Walk Retirement Community. She plans to study psychology at Appalachian State University and wants to participate in the program there, which will allow her to achieve both her undergraduate degree and her master's degree in five years. She hopes to work with young people "to ensure students always have someone to turn to."
Of the businesses and people who make the Connestee Falls scholarships possible, Lisa says, "They will never understand the difference they make in the community. I can't put into words how grateful I am"
For information on events which support the Connestee Falls Student Scholarship Program and to make a donation, visit at http://www.cfscholarships.org.
(Walker is a member of the publicity committee for the Connestee Falls Student Scholarship Program.)