Kenzie Chhay learns from her past, prepares for her future

Photo by Thenushaa Kandiah

Photo by Thenushaa Kandiah

After surviving a rough two years at Roseville High School, Kenzie Chhay is now successful and content as a senior at Whitney High.

Q: So you mentioned that Roseville High was a bad experience for you. What did you mean? Were there any specific issues?

A: So I’ve had the same group of friends since I moved to Sacramento or the Roseville area. Same friends since third grade, and so we grew up together, especially this one girl. We were two peas in a pod, like we [were inseparable]. Our families loved the Seahawks and so we’d always go to Superbowl and we’d spend time there. [She wasn’t] even a best friend, she was like my sister, like my better half. Freshman year we didn’t have any classes together, and you know when you don’t have classes together, you automatically split apart. We still stayed friends a little bit freshman year but then she got a boyfriend. And I had one too, they were friends, but I was more ‘friends over boys’ and she was the opposite. And so she would start saying ‘yea lets hang out…” and then be like “oh sorry I already have plans”. And I wasn’t mad, I understand, your first boyfriend’s always fun. The boy was a year older, he was a sophomore and he… smoked weed, he would go have fun with his friends at the lake and drink and everything- keep in mind this kid was an older sophomore, like seventeen. And soon she started doing it, I got mad, [I told her] ‘you don’t want to do this, you’re just doing this for him, if you don’t do it he’s just gonna get another girl his age’. She was trying to act more mature than she was. We just went on different paths, like I was more [involved] with school and she went- not to the dark side but to the opposite side. I [only] had a couple friends that wanted to get involved with the school and go to a four-year university. I needed a fresh start, new friends, [and a] new atmosphere, and so I came to Whitney. [Here] everyone has one goal… to get out of here and to be set for life.

Q: Due to everything you went through at Roseville, not just the friend thing, maybe other experiences as well, how have you grown as a person?

A: I feel like I’ve grown dramatically. Especially this year, now I’m team captain and I’ve been on a bunch of Church trips, I went to San Diego for the last two years. I’ve just been very involved. As cheer captain, I’m supposed to be this leader that everyone looks up to and it can be stressful but knowing that this whole team, that my peers look up to me, and that I’m obviously doing something right. I’ve used what happened in the past with my friends to make me stronger and better. Church- I’ve been on a lot of church camps and volunteered for the kids’ camps, and that has shown me that love wins all, never fails, and that God loves us. I guess my motto [would be] to love all, not everyone is as fortunate as you are. Over the years I’ve learned that love is very important. And at my new school, Whitney, I’ve learned that respect is huge. Just respecting someone can mean a lot to them. Treating people the way you want to be treated is huge and my family goes by that saying. Going into this class with a bunch of kids younger than me, [I went] with a positive attitude, like another senior would be like ‘oh my god I could’ve had an off period’ but I am a senior, and I need to show [the younger kids] what Whitney is about.

Q: What advice would you give your freshman self?

A: When people bring you down, do not stay down, do not feel bad for yourself. Life goes on. God’s plan is a lot bigger and better than what you have planned for yourself. Just know that if someone hurts you, it’s because they’re not totally secure of themselves, and knowing that the reason people bully is because they’re insecure about themselves. Also that you’re gonna have more than one best friend, that’s life. As times go on you grow, and sometimes you grow faster than your friends. High school isn’t gonna last forever, I need to think about what I’m gonna do after high school. Yes, don’t jump to the future, always live in the present, [and] always know that there’s gonna be a brighter side. And don’t let words get you down.