Claudia Verdant credits her family with pushing her to reach her goals. Now 20, Verdant is a student at Virginia State University in Petersburg and a member of the ROTC.
"My brother Davidson always called and checked up on me," she says, speaking by phone from school.
Growing up in a warm family environment with a people who had faith in her helped her to succeed, she says.
"My mother always said, ‘Work hard to have more and go further,’" Verdant says.
She is at Virginia State with help from the Rotary Club of St. John. Verdant was the second recipient of the $12,500 scholarship paid out over four years, which she says helps to pay for books and lab fees.
Verdant made a great impression when she interviewed with the Rotary scholarship committee.
"Ninety percent of it was the interview," says Bill Willigerod of the Rotary scholarship committee. "She exhibited great leadership, initiative, poise and resourcefulness. She seemed like a very bright and mature young lady."
While she wasn’t at the very top of her high school class, Willigerod says all those attributes made her the right person to receive the scholarship.
According to Willigerod, Verdant keeps in touch with Rotary and attends a meeting when she’s home.
At Virginia State, Verdant is a junior majoring in psychology. She has plans to go to graduate school. When she’s done studying, she plans to put her ROTC training to good use and join the U.S. Army. She says she expects to be commissioned as a second lieutenant.
Verdant’s parents are Rufus and Gertrude Verdant. She is one of six children.
"I’m very proud," Verdant’s mother says. "She’s continuing to be successful, and her head is still on her shoulders."
In addition to Davidson, Verdant’s siblings are Micheline, Barry, Miguel and Verna.
Verdant graduated from Julius E. Sprauve School and Eudora Kean High School before heading off to college.
In her free time, she spends 1.5 hours a week in the Big Brother and Big Sister program helping a student do better in school, doing things like arts and crafts and just being a friend. This is the second year she’s been involved in the program.
"I wanted to give back, and I enjoy doing it," she says.
She’s also enjoys spending time with her National Society of Pershing Angels sorority sisters, who are all ROTC members with an interest in drill.
As for the rest of her free time?
"I like to be outdoors," she says.