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Crane juggles life as SPCC winner
by Jim Muldrow, The Enquirer Journal, April 10, 2012

Leyna Crane is a juggler. For real. She juggles bowling pins, apples, balls, you name it.

But, that’s just a hobby. She also juggles her life. South Piedmont Community College’s Academic Excellence Award winner for 2012 is carrying a 3.881 GPA as a fifth-year student at Union County Early College, she’s secretary of the SPCC Student Government Association, she works, she knits and, until recently, played softball in a recreation league and for a travel team.

“She’s just an ideal student,” said SPCC Student Activities Director Mike Maffucci, who nominated her. “Studies come first. She works. She’s able to multi-task and handle a bunch of things at one time. She’s in student government. Phi Theta Kappa. She’s active in the community.

“She’s definitely a model student,” he said. “If every student was like her, my job would be easy. When they told me to nominate someone, she immediately jumped into my mind.”

Crane did not even know she had been nominated. “I was surprised,” she said. “I’m sure that even though I was nominated, they still picked me out of a bunch of different people.”

She will be recognized along with other Academic Excellence Award winners from other N.C. community colleges at “The Great Within the 58” at the Raleigh Convention Center on April 19. There will be a reception at the Governor’s Mansion that morning, followed by the awards luncheon at the convention center.

Crane, 18, lives in Indian Trail and will graduate in May with an Associate in Science degree. She will enroll in the fall at Wingate University, which she picked over Campbell, UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC-Asheville.

She would eventually like to go to pharmacy school. “I’ve been looking at pharmacy for a while,” she said. “I put biology (on the application) when I applied at Wingate. … I’ve been leaning toward pharmacy for a long time. It’s still looking that way. But I’m also looking at marine biology.”

Her interest in pharmacy carries over to her work at the Rite Aid store on Idlewild Road at Interstate 485. “I’m a cashier, and just got trained to be a pharmacy technician,” she said.

But, her job did force her to give up one of her loves. “I played softball for a long time, but had to ‘retire’ when I got my job,” she said. She was a center fielder on a travel team and a pitcher for her recreation league team. She’s proud of the fact that she struck out 156 batters in 15 games one season.

The Early College does not have sports teams, but it did not bother her that she could not play softball in high school. “That’s what rec leagues and travel teams are for,” she said. “That’s what determined going to early college – NOT playing sports. I still play football with the guys all the time (at lunch).”

Since giving up softball, she’s found another diversion. “I picked up knitting recently; that kind of takes some time,” she said.

And, about the juggling – Crane attended Camp Cherokee, a YMCA camp in Blacksburg, S.C., every year from the time she was 6 until she was 17. She took the juggling class there, and then taught it after she became a counselor.

“I stopped at bowling pins,” she said. “I can juggle three at a time of things the same weight. I used to be able to juggle an apple and take a bite out of it and keep juggling. I dressed up as a clown one time and walked around and juggled. I could also have a guy take the balls from me and I take them back.”

Crane would like to continue working once she enrolls at Wingate, perhaps at a drug store closer to the school. There will be all the other diversions of college life, and Crane has already shown that she’s not one to sit by idly while things are going on. And the juggling will continue.


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