As a senior at New Town High School in Owings Mills, Delanee-Alexis Coley is looking forward to all the traditions of high school — the powder puff football game with underclassmen, homecoming, prom. When Coley dreams about the future, she dreams big.
"Right now, I want to be in broadcast journalism," Coley said with a big smile. "I want to be bigger than Oprah."
Her dream may not be too far away. At the age of 16, Coley has numerous accomplishments under her belt. She is a member of New Town's National Honor Society, Student Government Association, Future Business Leaders of America and Parents Teachers Students Association. She is also the president of Le'Pearlz, a college and career readiness organization.
Throughout her youth, her summers have been spent in numerous programs, including the Naval Academy STEM Camp and College Park Young Scholars' Discovery Program.
She is also the author of two books, "Songs of My Heart" and the soon to be released "Simply A Young Lady with No Apologies."
All of these accomplishments were recognized when she was selected as the first-place winner of the Women of Tomorrow for grades 11-12 in June.
The Women of Tomorrow award recognizes "extraordinary young women who not only do well academically in class but do outstanding work in the community," according to Crystal Young, program administrator for Maryland Commission for Women, which, along with the Maryland Department of Human Resources and the Maryland State Department of Education, have sponsored the award since its beginnings in 1997.
"She has quite an extensive academic resume at this young age," Young said. "It's pretty amazing."
Phyllis Coley agrees that her daughter's resume is impressive, but notes that her daughter has thrived.
"She scared me as a child because she was doing things so quickly," Coley said. "We gave her different challenges so she could grow.
"A lot of people look at her resume and say she does too much. Honestly, she does so well because she enjoys life."
The New Town senior said she enjoys keeping busy. She balances her academics with singing, dancing, especially hip hop, and modeling, she said.
Her goal now is to raise $20,000 for her international global project Pure Thirst 4 Life. Funds raised will be used to help underdeveloped communities in Africa buy a well for clean water.
"Clean water is a right, not a privilege," Coley said. It was through Pure Thirst that Coley met Margie McLean, CEO and president of NU Genesis Youth & Professional Development Services, who was responsible for nominating Coley for the Women of Tomorrow award.
"Delanee ... has always displayed a high degree of integrity, responsibility, and ambition," McLean wrote in email. "It was [a] great pleasure to recommend Delanee-Alexis Coley as a candidate for the 2014 Women of Tomorrow Awards. I envision that through her leadership qualities, she will continue to strive in being a high achiever and becoming a great leader in the community."
Coley also is organizing a three-part conference for young women based on her book "Simply a Young Lady with No Apologies" that will occur early next year and include a tea, workshops and more.
For the Women of Tomorrow award, Coley and her family traveled to Annapolis in June for an awards banquet where she was able to meet other honorees from around the state.
"The speeches [at the banquet] were really inspirational, " Coley said.
Next up for Coley is deciding where to attend college. She is visiting colleges near and far in keeping with her desire to go "out of state, but not too far away."
Coley is interested in a wide range of subjects. Broadcast journalism is at the top of her list, but she also is interested in biology, chemistry, English and Spanish.
And then there's that dream to be "bigger than Oprah."