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Woodlawn teen first girl to win DuSable Museum “Rising Star” award

CymbrehonWarren 17 along with Deniece Fields School Director/Principal Warren  A senior Young Woman's Leadership Charter School Chicago will receive

Cymbrehona Warren, 17, along with Deniece Fields, School Director/Principal, Warren, A senior at Young Woman's Leadership Charter School, Chicago, will receive the DuSable Museum's annual "Rising Star" award April 13th, 2013 | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Updated: May 1, 2013 2:44PM

At age 17, Chicago Public Schools student Cymbrehona Warren already is breaking barriers.

The Woodlawn resident, a senior at Young Women’s Leadership Charter School, is the 2013 winner of the DuSable Museum of African American History’s coveted “Rising Star” award.

“Cymba” is the first girl to garner the award since DuSable began recognizing amazing CPS teens at its “Night of 100 Stars” — a “don’t miss” event among the city’s black elite.

“I feel really honored. I’m glad this year they wanted a change,” says the soft-spoken girl, who boasts a 3.8 GPA while taking rigorous Advanced Placement courses.

“As a society, we have to fight sexism and work to make things more integrated.”

If “Cymba” has strong opinions on that issue, they may be framed by attending Chicago’s only all-girls public school, where girl power is an intrinsic theme.

“I felt I wasn’t being challenged enough in regular public schools, so I was interested in going to a charter. I chose YWLCS because it focuses on preparing us for leadership,” says Cymba, who will head next year to Hampton University to study business management.

The youth will be honored April 13 at the 21st annual gala. Being held at the South Shore Cultural Center, it’s the first year it moves outside of DuSable, where annual attendance has outgrown the event’s unique use of every square foot of space at the museum.

Also receiving awards are Chicagoans who have made outstanding contributions to society, including TV producer/writer Mara Brock Akil; fashion designer/philanthropist Barbara Bates; Cambium L.L.C. President Michelle Collins; and IntraLink Global CEO Diane Primo.

The oldest of three children raised by a single mother, Cymba volunteers as a math tutor for younger peers at her school at 2641 S. Calumet, and has notched myriad extracurricular activities, e.g. Mikva Challenge’s public speaking competition, Project Soapbox; Northwestern University’s Oncofertility Saturday Academy, a weekend STEM education program for high school girls; and an internship with celebrity Chef Art Smith’s culinary arts program, Common Threads, which teaches kids healthy cooking.

“Cymba is very unassuming. That’s what I like about her,” says YWLCS principal Deniece Fields. “She’s very much a leader, one who, regardless of what’s going on around her, is very focused on what she has to do. She isn’t one to fight for the spotlight. But I’ve always told the girls, sometimes when you don’t chase after something, but do what you do and do it well, the spotlight will find you.”

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