Hennessey Carlbom spent the first ten years of her life living on White Earth and Red Lake Indian Reservations. The youngest of five children, Hennessey had moved to Minneapolis with her family by the age of 13, when a terrible accident left her older brother Jordan dead, and Hennessey stricken with grief. Her pain multiplied when several months later, Jordan’s newly born son–and Hennessey’s nephew–passed away, too. The heartache over her family’s tragic losses was too much to bear and took its toll on young Hennessey. She stopped going to school and ran away from home. The following year, she was expelled from school for fighting
Despite the challenges Hennessey faced in middle school, there would soon be light on the horizon. As high school rolled around, Hennessey came to realize that she had choices, and it was time to choose herself, and in turn, her education.
At Takoda Prep, Hennessey says she got back on track. She enrolled in the Additional Studies Program and began to make good grades. Soon, the young woman who had given up on academics to the point that she was skipping school was consistently receiving the quarterly attendance award. Teachers, such as her nominator, Thomas Lonetti, came to admire her ability as a student, not just her knowledge and contribution to classroom discussion, but “her passion for knowledge, a yearning to want to learn...” Hennessey says that as she strives for success in school and in life, she relies on the support of two important people: her mom, and her best friend and classmate, Leann. Her mother pushes her to do her best, and Leann, with whom Hennessey shares similar experiences and struggles, is the positive, encouraging voice that lifts her up when life feels heavy.
Hennessey can’t wait for her family to watch her achieve success. She plans to go to college in Minnesota and will pursue a career in law enforcement with the goal of becoming an FBI agent. Her nominator has already decided that “Hennessey will succeed in whatever she chooses to pursue.” She has already proven that she has what it takes.