Hi, my name is Anna and I am a senior at North Lenoir High School. I was born with a unilateral cleft lip and palate. My doctors and nurses on my cleft team were really wonderful, but it was hard having to go through the surgeries and the visits.

I had speech therapy for three years before I started public school. In school, I did have people ask me what had happened to my lip or nose. Usually not in a mean way, but it was still something that had happened a lot. I learned to give a simple answer: “I was born with a cleft lip and palate, but I had surgery to fix it.” I understood that they were just curious.

I was pretty shy as a child. I would cry a lot when I became overwhelmed, especially when surrounded by a lot of people. I was extremely fortunate to have so much support from my parents, friends, and doctors. As I got older, I realized that I really loved to be onstage and I overcame the fright that I used to have. I started with dance and then singing and then added my favorite–performing in musical productions. It can be hard to be the focus of everyone when you are onstage, especially if you might look a little different from others. However, I learned to be confident and do my best. It quickly became a passion of mine and I began to feel less self-conscious onstage. I just had fun doing what I loved.

I have been in about nine productions, and one of my favorite roles was Glinda in the Wizard of Oz. I have participated in two local scholarship programs and I am currently the 2020 Distinguished Young Woman of Lenoir County. I am very excited to have the opportunity to represent my county at the state program in Greensboro and meet the girls participating from across the state.

I do not let anything keep me from showing my best self on the stage, and I have learned that everyone has things that they are sometimes insecure about; but those things do not have to be insecurities–they make us each unique in our own ways. I am so glad that I was able to become a part of ACPA, share my story and easily connect with those who have dealt with the same thing I have and possibly inspire some young performer to follow their passion.