This blog is the fifth in a year-long series written by students serving on the San Antonio Youth Commission. The San Antonio Youth Commission is a civic engagement platform for San Antonio High School students and is managed by the P16Plus Council of Greater Bexar County. See all the posts here. My name is Danniella Danice Ongmanchi and I’m currently a Sophomore at STEM Academy (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), a magnet school of NEISD. The North East ISD STEM Academy was one of sixteen campuses or charters designated as T-STEM Academies for the 2014-2015 school year. T-STEM academies are rigorous secondary schools focusing on improving instruction and academic performance in science and mathematics-related subjects, with a goal of increasing the number of students who study and enter STEM careers. High school is a fear factor challenge for me. Fear of homework. Fear of group projects. Fear of teachers. Fear of big hallways. Fear of having no friends. I call it “High School Phobia”. 8th grade was closing to an end and I had to figure out where to go to high school. STEM, which is a magnet school in NEISD, or MacArthur High School. The stress was overwhelming. I was overthinking too much about high school. If i move to STEM I would have better chance of having classes relevant to my goal of becoming a pediatrician. If I stay at MacArthur I would be with my friends. I had to make a decision quick. STEM or not to STEM. It was days of sleepless nights. I finally decided to prioritize my future goal. I decided to go to STEM. Joining STEM means that I had to leave all my close friends behind. The fear of not having friends looms in the corner of my mind. I won't have a friend to get lost with in the maze of high school hallways. I had survived my middle school years, now it was time to survive high school. Then came the freshman orientation. The teachers were like vultures waiting to eat me alive. The fear of teachers sets in. These teachers mean business, no more goofing around. Tons of homework I have never seen in middle school makes my bag feel heavier than it should be. Fear of homework is what I need to overcome in my freshman year. Group projects were toughest for me. I perform at my best when working alone where I am not dependent of other team members. In STEM, there is a huge project in each semester called PBL, also known as problem based learning. We are split into groups and each group has to find a creative way to solve the problem. PBL has taught me leadership skills that I never thought I had. With an open mind and a go getter attitude I was selected as manager of the group time and again. I am now a Sophomore and my “High School Phobia” is totally gone. I gained more new friends and reconnected with the old. My teachers are caring, outgoing and fun. They guide, motivate and inspire me every day. I totally rocked my homework on top of competitive cheer squad and orchestra. In fact I was even chosen as the STEM Ambassador to help new STEM students cope with school. I have overflowing positive energy to volunteer with SOS (Summer of Service) and SAYC (San Antonio Youth Commission). SAYC has helped me see that I can make a difference in the community. And that as youth of San Antonio, we have a voice and hands that can turn the world into a better place. I conquered my fears and channeled my time and energy to making the most of my high school years. Now, I am excited more than ever to reach new heights in my Junior and Senior years.