Cierra Guest is a born and raised Pittsburgh native and a rising senior at Woodland Hills High School, but her story is anything but ordinary.
In May 2021, Cierra lost her sister due to gun violence, and since then she has been utilizing the grief she’s experiencing to create positive change. She channeled this grief into creating The Guest Resilience Room at her school. Her vision for the resilience room is to provide students a safe space to release and cope with feelings rather than holding them in and risk letting their pain bleed onto others and ultimately hurt someone else because of their hurt. These feelings can include anger, anxiety, sadness, stress, and any other feeling that may be overwhelming to them and require them to decompress. There are also mental health professionals present in the room who can provide students with the support and guidance that they may need to subside from a mental breakdown. In addition to professionals, there are also activities available for students to do that will help ground them such as yoga, breathing exercises, painting, drawing, etc. However, her vision does not stop at Woodland Hills High School. She aspires to expand it to multiple school districts and to both elementary and middle school students throughout Pennsylvania, and hopefully outside the state to maximize the accessibility to a means of decompressing and mental health services.
In addition to her Resilience Room, Cierra is looking forward to attending college after finishing her senior year in 2023. She’s currently eyeing Oregon State University as a potential school, but she’s keeping her options open to whatever opportunities she may get. For the time being, she is currently working with YES as a junior mentor to the girls in the program. Cierra is also actively connecting with girls in the summer Learn & Earn program to see what issues that students are currently experiencing and provide them with the best and most meaningful and relevant mentoring experiences that they can have during these integral years of their lives. She also plans on letting the girls come up with the rules because not only does it provide them a space to bond and establish trust with her, but they are also more likely to follow through with the rules if they are the ones that are making them. She had this experience with her mentor and wishes to follow suit with her mentees.
Cierra has faced an immeasurable loss last May and rather than let her grief consume her, she is taking it and making something beautiful that will ultimately affect the lives of countless young people and girls. Cierra is building a pathway for girls to follow in to use what broke them to build others up who need it the most.