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Outstanding teen brings much to the table

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Lasting impression: netball is 2024 Outstanding Teen Chiaje Rudo’s favourite sport, but she keeps busy with several sports as well as maintaining a 4.0 grade point average in joint enrolment at the Berkeley Institute and Bermuda College (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Chiaje Rudo graduated from the Bermuda College this semester with a 4.0 grade point average, distinction and an associate’s in arts.

The 18-year-old did all this as a dual enrolment student, also attending classes at the Berkeley Institute where she was head girl.

However, sitting in the audience of the 38th Annual Bermuda Outstanding Teen Awards last month, she was unsure whether she was actually winning an award.

“I like to be confident and have faith,” she said. “However, there were 88 other students there who all seemed very deserving.”

Lasting impression: netball is 2024 Outstanding Teen Chiaje Rudo’s favourite sport, but she keeps busy with several sports as well as maintaining a 4.0 grade point average in joint enrolment at the Berkeley Institute and Bermuda College, in addition to playing netball and football for Dandy Town (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Then the presenters started reading out the winning bio for the outstanding teen of the year.

“I was thinking that sounds like me, but it didn’t,” she said.

By the time her name was called, Ms Rudo’s heart was pounding.

“I forgot how to walk,” she laughed. “My shoe came off as I was going up the steps to the stage and I had to put it back on. It was very embarrassing.”

She received the female academic award, and was named outstanding teen of the year, the highest honour at the ceremony hosted by Teen Services.

“Chiaje brought so much to the table,” said awards committee member Samantha O’Bannon.

Ms Rudo received a trophy and a golf lesson. There were also hints of a financial reward not yet fully revealed to her at press time.

Dr O’Bannon was astonished by Ms Rudo’s busy schedule. In addition to getting top grades, she plays several sports, is on the Berkeley student council, volunteers and dances at United Dance Productions.

“Chiaje made a very lasting impression in all of her interviews with us,” Dr O’Bannon said. “She came in and held herself confidently, and really was able to effectively communicate. She is also very humble.”

Ms Rudo became a dual enrolment student three years ago.

“I still had high school requirements to complete, so it was a little difficult, at first, balancing that with a full slate of college classes,” she said. “I also had other commitments such as the Berkeley student council, sports and extracurricular activities.”

She became a little overwhelmed in her first semester, and thought about switching to do Bermuda College courses part time.

“I am thankful my parents would not let me do that,” she said. “I was able to persevere.”

Today, she is grateful for the programme, because it allowed her to get a step ahead in her higher education.

Academics have always been a top priority for Ms Rudo.

“In recent years, that has meant getting my work done immediately, and not leaving it to the last minute,” she said. “I get it done during the day, because I know that I have commitments in the afternoon.”

Her parents, Wylie and Jodie Rudo, have always supported her endeavours.

“They instilled in me from a young age that I can achieve whatever I want to achieve,” she said.

Her father, a former top footballer at Dandy Town, is in human resource management and consultancy, and her mother teaches at Francis Patton Primary.

“A lot of people assume that since my mom is a teacher, she must have me on a very strict study schedule,” Ms Rudo said. “It is really not like that at all. She has always given me the freedom to try different things, and to also focus on what I really want to do.”

Ms Rudo started doing ballet at United Dance Productions when she was a toddler. “I have done that consistently, my whole life,” she said.

When she got into sport later in her childhood, she found that ballet helped with her flexibility and balance.

“In netball, you do a lot of jumps and pivots,” she said.

She plays football and netball with the Dandy Stars and has also represented her school in track and field.

“Ballet also helped me with discipline,” Ms Rudo said. “With ballet you have a strict routine, and a warm-up procedure you have to go through every time you dance.”

In 2020 her sporting career came to a stop when she damaged her knee playing football. “Someone hit me from behind and I went down,” she said.

After it first happened she went to a physiotherapist who cleared her to go back to ballet and football.

“We did not know, at first, that I had torn the anterior cruciate ligament in my knee,” she said.

Once it was discovered, she was banned from running, football and dance for a whole year, so it could heal.

“I did not know what to do with all my free time,” she admitted. “It was depressing. I never got back into track and field as much as I had been.”

Today, netball is her favourite sport. “I often play centre,” she said. “I like the fast pace and the teamwork.”

She said other sports like athletics gave her anxiety because doing well was all on her.

“It is unfortunate that netball does not have a national team like it once did,” she said. “I am not really on that national standard that I probably would be if they still had an association.”

In September, she plans to attend Western University in London, Ontario, Canada.

“I will be doing a double major in mathematics and child psychology,” she said.

Previously, she thought she would go straight into child psychology after university. Now, she is looking at going into reinsurance first.

Next week she starts a summer job at Arch Insurance in underwriting.

“I could get some work experience and then go back to school to pursue my doctorate and then ultimately be a child psychologist,” she said.

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Published June 04, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated June 05, 2024 at 8:07 am)

Outstanding teen brings much to the table

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