Raven Funderburk has always been driven. Ask those closest to her, and they’ll be quick to tell you.
“Anything she sets her mind to, she does not stop until she achieves it,” her mother, Shonda Funderburk, said.
That drive is clearly seen in all the Olympic High School senior has achieved during her academic career. She has a weighted grade point average of 4.48 and is ranked ninth out of the 622 students in her class. She’s an ambassador for the Young Black Leadership Alliance. She’s a part of Key Club, the National Honor’s Society and Student Council. She has also volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center.
And that just scratches the surface.
It’s no wonder Raven Funderburk is The Charlotte Post Foundation’s co-Top Senior of the Year along with South Mecklenburg High's Emory Brinson. Since 1975, The Charlotte Post and the foundation have recognized the top African American high school seniors in Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools.
Funderburk has worked hard to make her academic career successful. She recalls the many times she stayed up late and sacrificed to achieve her goals and being named Senior of the Year made her time and effort worth it. Considering how competitive the Top Senior Program is, winning meant a lot to her.
“I feel truly honored to be selected as a Top Senior,” she said.
Of all the activities she participated in, Funderburk is most proud of her senior graduation project, which focused on communities with inadequate access to healthy food. She volunteered with The Bulb, an organization focused on providing local produce and health and wellness education to food insecure communities as well as distributed donated food she collected to a community through a mobile produce market.
“It was just rewarding to go out into the community,” she said.
With a full-ride scholarship from the Lewis and Elizabeth Dowdy Scholars Enrichment Program, Funderburk has committed to enrolling at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University in Greensboro. She plans to enter the health care field, specifically dentistry and orthodontic care, to give back to her local community and abroad. Funderburk wants to motivate other African Americans to get into the health care field.
“There aren’t a lot of African Americans in the field, so I’d like to change that reality by entering the field myself and inspiring others to pursue a career in health care,” she said.
Her parents, Shonda and Leo Funderburk, can attest for Raven’s steady interest in community service and health care.
Leo Funderburk said his daughter has always had an interest in helping people. He said he hopes Raven can eventually start her own practice and become a successful mogul like her mother. Shonda Funderburk said Raven has always been the focused, determined type, both inside and outside of the classroom.
“My biggest hope for Raven is that she will follow her heart to pursue what her passion is,” Shonda said.
Both of her parents were proud of their daughter being named Senior of the Year, as was Makeda Terry, a health occupation teacher at Olympic High.
Terry said in her 20 years of teaching, Funderburk was a student who stood apart from the rest. She said Raven was always trying to improve in order to do the best work she possibly could.
“She’s definitely one of the ones I will remember,” Terry said, adding she saved Funderburk’s work as examples for future students.
“She deserves to be recognized for all her hard work,” she said.
Funderburk said if there’s one thing she’s learned from her high school experiences, it’s that she’s serious about making her dreams a reality.
“I’ve really shown myself that I’m committed to my goals,” she said. “I will go the extra mile to make sure that I’m achieving those.”