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Booker T. Washington High School Senior Spotlight: Deanrea Sykes

It takes a special kind of person to be a Hornet. And once a Hornet steps foot inside the Hive, they answer to a higher calling.

“You’ll leave being a completely different person,” Deanrea Sykes said. "It’s been a long ride, it’s been a long journey, but I am ready.”

For Booker T. Washington senior Deanrea Sykes, it's been a journey full of joy, challenges, and character building.

“Never forget where you come from - I am a proud child of north Tulsa and I will always rep north Tulsa,” Deanrea said. "I just want to see how far I can go. Before this, I never believed in myself so I didn’t run for anything.”

Chenani Arterberry, Booker T.'s Dean of Students, has watched Deanrea grow.

"He has gone from a quiet, self-doubting little boy, to a proud and confident young man,” Chenani said. “And despite all the obstacles he’s faced, he has just preserved.”

Deanrea wasted no time getting involved. From being captain of the marching band to being involved in several clubs, to running for and winning senior class president.

“I think being in a leadership position, like senior class president, I get to speak life into people, I get to make decisions when I am helping people have fun or be their best selves,” he said.

Deanrea also joined Men of Power, helping forge a new world for men of color.

“It’s probably the biggest thing that I am in. It’s breaking the negative stereotype of black male underachievement," he said. "I think, in this country, we look at black males as uncivilized, reckless, but this group is a completely different side of that.” 

Deanrea has personified what it means to be a Hornet saying, "Self-discipline is the definition of self-love." It's that drive he plans to take with him to college.

“It’s going to be hard, but just put in the work,” he said.

Deanrea plans to become an attorney.

“Civil rights attorney and then, later on, a professor of law or African American history at any university,” he said.

His goal is to be the light for marginalized people.

“Women, racial minorities, the LGBTQ community, and so, I want to be the person that bridges that gap and says, ‘I am going to be there for you, give you a voice,’ the best that I can,” he said.

His dream is to return to Tulsa to help make it a better community for everyone.

“I feel like there is so much out there that I want to pick up on so that when I come back to Tulsa or come back to Oklahoma, I can make a true change or a huge impact,” Deanrea said.

Teacher Lin Tao said, “Honestly, I think for a lot of young men, young people, coming from a background that is not as privileged as some others, it is always very easy for them to just go with the flow, follow whatever other people do and just follow their footsteps.”

That’s what Deanrea hopes to disrupt, and really help people reach their potential.

“He wanted to be different, he wanted to make a difference for himself, he wanted to make a difference for the world. I'm really, really impressed with that,” Lin said.

“I want to invest in my community, the schools here. We have so much knowledge here, we have so much drive and passion in this city as a whole, but we just have to believe in ourselves, we have to keep going. And just truly do something about what we are passionate about,” Deanrea said.

“We are diverse, we need more people who are advocating and building Tulsa. And for him to want to come back and do that, I can’t say enough,” Chenani said.

Deanrea credits his relationships with his teachers, that propelled him to achieve.

“To uplift you and affirm you as a person, I think that means the world,” he said. “Self-confidence, you know, I look at kids with their test scores and their GPAs, and I’m like, ‘Man, I wish,’ but, you know, knowing if I believe in myself I can do anything, that’s always been number one. I told myself I couldn’t do so many things and I couldn’t do them because I said I couldn’t. But once I said, ‘You know what, I am going to do this,’ it fell in to place.”

Another Hornet about to take flight, leave the Hive, and change the world. 

“He is one of those few in my whole entire career that will forever be in my heart,” Chenani said.

“It means a lot to me. It gives me a place where I can be myself,” Deanrea said.