Meet John Champe’s Mary Kamara

Most students would be satisfied graduating high school and college being lightly fluent in a single foreign language.

Mary Kamara intends to be proficient in three: French, Spanish and Italian.

Mary, who this fall will attend the American University in Rome, Italy, has a mature, laser-like focus on working for the United Nations, an organization she says requires staff to be fluent in at least three languages. Her goal is to be proficient in Spanish and Italian by the time she graduates college, then go on to study French.

In addition to participating in several school clubs and editing John Champe’s literary arts magazine, Mary studies Italian and Spanish for an hour each day.

But it wasn’t always easy. She went to 12 schools in 12 years, primarily because of numerous changes in her family life, making getting grounded in a school’s culture, and making lasting friends, difficult. But she persevered. “I did have an epiphany,” she said. “I was trying to run away from things that could really happen anywhere and so I decided to stay and face my fears.”

She found a home at John Champe, where she’s excelled in honors and advanced placement classes. She also manages to work part time at Ashby Ponds in Ashburn. During the past two years, she’s worked her way up from a restaurant server to a trainer for new employees. She’s also enjoyed getting close with several senior residents, including a 102-year-old man, WWII veterans, and a woman who fought for the Equal Rights Amendment of 1972.
“Mary is one of the best students I have ever worked with. She’s respectful, humble and intelligent,” John Champe guidance counselor Andrew Taforo said. “She has overcome so much in her life and everything she has accomplished has been through hard work, dedication and determination.”

John McNeilly

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