Cavalier sets lofty goals

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 14, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Ryan Winnegan is a quiet young woman of 17, and is the first to say she is not the greatest social butterfly. She has little time for a social life, but instead dedicates her time to education and learning how to be of service to others.

Ask Ryan and she will immediately respond that she wants to be exactly like her grandmother, Sharon Harris, a former U.S. Army intelligence officer who is a dedicated member of Suffolk Kiwanis.

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&uot;Grandma does a lot with the Kiwanis to help others and I feel that helps society as a whole,&uot; said Ryan. &uot;She has always encouraged me to work hard and do good for others and as a member of the Kiwanis Key Club at Lakeland High School, I have learned a lot about being of service to others.&uot;

It was Kiwanis, in fact, that provided a scholarship to Winnegan so that she may continue her education. She has a dual career in mind, and she is firmly fixed on achieving her goals.

&uot;I want to be a fashion designer and an architect,&uot; she explained. &uot;Some people say that it would be difficult to maintain two careers, but I do believe it is possible. My grandmother always taught me that with God, all things are possible.&uot;

Winnegan has been accepted at Virginia Tech, a college she chose because of two factors.

&uot;Dr. Milton Liverman, the superintendent of Suffolk Public Schools is a graduate there,&uot; she said. &uot;Also, many of the Kiwanis of Suffolk graduated from Tech. They are a great bunch of people doing a lot of good for the city and if they are an example of what Tech produces, then I want to be there.&uot;

How she intends to manage two such diverse careers is still to be seen, however, Winnegan has her reasons for choosing architecture.

&uot;I want to someday design a facility that can help people with disabilities,&uot; she said. &uot;Not just a regular place, but one with special services and caring people. My brother, Sky, is autistic and I see the difficulties in his life and I want to help him and others like him. There are places to house the disabled, but I want more than just to warehouse them. I want a comfortable and compassionate place where they can live and grow spiritually as well as physically.&uot;

On the fashion scene, Winnegan said she looks forward to the runways and bright lights of New York City.

&uot;I would love to be there with all the excitement and thrills, but Suffolk will always be in my heart,&uot; she said. &uot;I would love to be able to give back to Suffolk, the way the people who have helped me gave to me. Without our helping each other… where would we be in this world?&uot;

A young woman on the move, Winnegan has also fashioned her life around the ethics and upbringing her grandmother instilled.

&uot;Like grandma, I am extremely frugal and don’t buy anything unless it’s on a second or third markdown,&uot; said Winnegan. &uot;I don’t even buy CD’s or tapes… only what I have to have. Also, I have a strong work ethic, having worked at Belk for almost three years. I believe you have to work if you plan to have anything in life.&uot;

Also like her role model, Winnegan is a great dancer. The cha-cha slide is her favorite and she learned the dance at a Key Club convention. Still she isn’t a girl who frequently dates. In fact, she’s truly not into dating, but instead focused on her future career.

&uot;I have a lifetime to date,&uot; she explained. &uot;I want to complete my education first. I see the accomplishments of my grandmother and I recognize the fact that with education and determination, you can be anything you want.&uot;

Of course, Winnegan’s mother, Eileen Harris, has played a major role in the success her daughter is enjoying. Harris is a member of the U.S. Navy.

&uot;She has always taught me that I have to keep my head on straight and do all I’m supposed to do to get myself established,&uot; she said. &uot;She always said no matter how difficult the situation, you should not give up but instead do whatever you have to in order to keep on going. You can make it through anything with the help of God and plenty of determination.&uot;

Winnegan offers a lovely smile when she speaks of her grandfather, Harold Harris. He has also offered some sage advice in her life.

&uot;Granddaddy has always said do well in school or he’ll kick my butt,&uot; she said with a little chuckle. &uot;I knew he was serious, too, so I truly have him to thank for any of my success. He is a dear.&uot;

Ryan is also a member of the Beta Club, the Spanish Club, and 4-H Club. She leaves Tuesday for 4-H Congress in Blacksburg. Of course, Grandma Harris will proudly be right by her side.

Name? Ryan A. Winnegan

Age? 17

Family? My mother is Eilene Harris and my grandparents are Sharon and Harold Harris. I have two great brothers, Sky and Corey, and they are my life.

Education? I graduate today from Lakeland High School with honors and perfect attendance. I was also presented with a scholarship from the Kiwanis Club, and I have been accepted at Virginia Tech.

Career/occupation? Currently, I plan on a career in architecture and I also want to be a fashion designer.

Favorite thing about your job? I work with Belk and I’ve been there for about three years, but I do plan on a much more lucrative career for my future. Belk and their associates and my customers have been wonderful to me. Many of my customers wrote letters to the store commending my sales skills and personality.

Least favorite thing about your job? I truly love my job and even though I’ll be leaving in August, I do look forward to starting college.

Volunteer activities? I am a member of 4-H Clubs and I work as a counselor at summer camp each year. I have been a past Lieutenant Governor of the Key Club for Division 21. I’ve also been the past President and Treasurer for Lakeland High’s Key Club.

Favorite thing about Suffolk? I love the people and the country atmosphere even though it is turning into a big city. Suffolk just has the best of both worlds and we are close to beaches, mountains and many activities.

What accomplishments are you proudest of? Learning to play the violin in the fifth grade and becoming the first lieutenant governor of the Division 21 Key Club from Suffolk. My violin lessons have paid off with many rewarding experiences and my grandmother, Sharon Harris, is extremely proud of me. That makes me happy!

Who or what motivates and inspires you? My grandmother. She is the neatest lady! She’s a retired Chief Warrant Officer in the U. S. Army, and she’s worked for 31-years with Army Intelligence. I think that’s very exciting! She is also the person who taught me about deportment, my hair and nails and many other attributes such as having good character and making good grades. She also taught me a strong work ethic.

Favorite way to spend free time? Writing stories for children and sketching fashion designs. Travel would also be another favorite thing to do.

What words of wisdom would you like to share with others? Get a job! Attitude is everything and to be a success, you must have a great attitude even when things go wrong. God has us all in His care and He always makes things right in the end.

What ingredients are in the recipe for a good life? God, family, country and education.

We all have our 15 minutes of fame in this life. How would you spend you time in the spotlight? As a famous architect or fashion designer.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Nothing! I like me as God created me. I only wish everyone could love themselves, because then we could all love each other.