Interview: LaQuishia Stone Goes Big

In her first foray to a foreign country, this Carver High School Student takes on Mount Everest

“At first I thought it was a big joke, but once I sat down and talked to my mom about it, I realized this was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” says LaQuishia Stone.

The “joke” in question was the challenge that Hanesbrands Inc. threw out to the students at nearby Carver High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina: Write an essay on why you want to trek to Everest Base Camp and, if your grades are good enough, the teachers recommend you highly enough, and you’re up to the task of climbing to 17,500 feet, we’ll take you with us.

Stone, who beat out about a dozen or so other finalists in the essay contest, isn’t one to walk away from a challenge, even one that takes her halfway around the world, above the clouds, and firmly into terra incognita. She’s used to doing things the hard way: The 17-year-old junior was the first girl to play tight and defensive end for the Winston-Salem Indians football team. And she’s played basketball with Michael Jordan. After high school Stone plans to go to college, possibly major in business, and eventually become a music producer. Given her accomplishments and goals, Mount Everest base camp doesn’t sound quite as lofty anymore.

Stone, her mother LaShonda, and Carver High School staff member Theresa Hamer, will be flying to Kathmandu this week to start the 40-plus-mile trek to base camp to meet Jamie Clarke and the climbing team. Here are a few thoughts from Stone before she embarks on her journey to see the roof of the world:

Stephanie Pearson: Were you surprised when you were chosen for the Everest trip?

LaQuishia Stone: I was very shocked and surprised at the time.

SP: In your winning essay you write that you “like taking risks that others would not, so I push myself each day to better myself.” How do you push yourself?

LS: Well, you know, my mom pushes herself, which makes me want to push myself more. I played football for two years and was the only girl who played. After the first practice they knew that I wasn’t playing any games and that I was serious about it.

SP: What other sports do you play?

LS: I play basketball, softball, soccer, a little bit of volleyball, and I used to box. I play any sport there is.

SP: What’s the highest you’ve ever climbed?

LS: The most climbing I’ve ever done is in a gym and you have a thing where you climb to the top and press the button.

SP: What are you doing to train for the trek?

LS: I play AAU basketball, for the Lady Phoenix out of Greensboro. I’m a shooting guard and post. I have practice every Tuesday and Thursday and tournaments on weekends. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I have track practice. I’m a distance runner. I do the one-lap or two-lap events. And I’ve been doing a lot of walking with my mom.

SP: What’s the farthest from home you’ve ever been?

LS: I went to a Michael Jordan basketball camp in Santa Barbara. He’s very cool, very outgoing.

SP: What are you most excited about the trip?

LS: Meeting new people, trying new things, trying new food, and learning their culture.

SP: What makes you most scared?

LS: Well, I’m not really afraid of anything. But if I had to pick one I would say trying the food that’s not all that great. I don’t want to be disrespectful. I want to eat it with a straight face.

SP: What do you hope to get out of the trip and bring back to your fellow students?

LS: I’m hoping to learn new things, not to take things for granted, and be grateful for what I’ve got. In some parts of Asia they don’t have as much opportunity as we have here as far as schooling. School is a must; you have to go to school. I want to come back with lots of knowledge. Therefore I can teach it to others.

LaQuishia Stone

LaQuishia Stone

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