At 15, Raven was overwhelmed by school, issues at home, and athletics. She was in a slump, simply going through the motions, and had trouble staying focused. After some tough talks with her track and field coach, Raven found herself sitting in front of Communities In Schools site coordinators, Katrina Bell and Robert Ellington.
Katrina and Robert helped Raven not only with home issues, but they also provided a safe place where she could just be herself. They also acted as guidance counselors, offering her some much needed assistance while giving her the time and space to make her own decisions about her future college and sports plans. By the time Raven entered her senior year of high school, she had turned her academic career around, and raised her GPA from a 2.1 to a 3.0. She was no longer just going through the motions.
With the help of coaches, teachers, CIS staff, friends, and family, Raven not only made improvements in school, but also huge leaps in track and field. In April 2014, she set a national prep record at the Taco Bell Classic, launching the shot put 17.28 meters to break a mark set in 2003, and she was recognized as the Gatorade Female Track & Field Athlete of the Year for 2013-14. Since then, her throws have gone further and further. She has captured three NCAA championships, the first two at Southern Illinois where she matriculated after graduating from Burke and the most recent one at the University of Mississippi where she transferred when her coach left Southern Illinois for Ole Miss. In the latter, she set an NCAA record of 19.33 meters.
In 2016, Raven joined the US Olympic Team in Rio de Janeiro. After qualifying for the final eight, she finished fifth with a personal best of 19.35 meters in what is likely to be only the first of several Olympic appearances.
We are so very proud of Raven who has proven that when you set your mind to succeed, and with a team around you to help you along the way, there are no obstacles that cannot be overcome.