By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Most nurses will tell you to be effective at the job you must be able to relate to as many people in as many ways as possible.
Millington Central High School senior Karyme Brooks plans to attend the University of Memphis starting this fall to major in Nursing. The daughter of Ronald and Esilda Brooks is one of the most likely students on campus by her peers, faculty, staff and administrators.
Brooks said the reason she gets along with so many people is because she is mindful that she represents her father who served 22 years in the U.S. Air Force and her mother who is a proud native of Panama.
Both her parents are proud of their youngest daughter for the young woman she’s growing up to be and her status of Historian in the MCHS Class of 2019.
“We’ve raised some wonderful daughters,” Ronald said. “She’s one of three along with Tearre and Chabeli. They continue to impress me.
“Karyme is well rounded,” he added. “The fact we had to live overseas in so many places, has really sculpted them into something unique.”
The youngest Brooks was born in Turkey 18 years ago. By the time she got ready to start elementary school, Karyme was stateside. Then a couple of years later she landed in the place that would become home — Millington.
Always near the top of the class, Karyme got the news March 1 she was No. 3 in her class behind brothers Dean and Rockwell Karash.
“All the hours put in studying, balancing things not having much time to study, yeah I was tired,” Karyme acknowledged. “You look back and you are proud of yourself for making this achievement.”
Karyme had to balance honors classes along with soccer each year in high school following in Chabeli’s footsteps. Along the way, she was a part of HOSA, Key Club, National Honors Society and more.
“Validation, I already knew I was in the top three,” she said. “But I didn’t know my official position was in the top three. We kind of knew we (the Karash brothers) would be up there. And it was kind of nice to know nobody beat us out.”
Making sure Karyme was hard to beat along the way to the top of the class were Esilda and Ronald. When Karyme needed a boost or a reminder, Ronald was always there.
“Dad has always inspired me,” she said. “He’s been very supportive. Kind of pushy making sure I stayed on top of my grades. He was making sure nothing was below an A and if it was, ‘Girl what’s wrong with you.’ We get on it.”
Ronald taught his baby girl the art of balancing a busy schedule. He also provided her with way to escape the demands of everyday life with trips and father/daughter talks.
The other piece that allowed Karyme to reach her potential was her mother. Esilda was a common sight at MCHS volunteering and serving as a team mother for Lady Trojan Soccer.
“My Mom was there,” Karyme said. “It was fun. She even got called Coach Mom there for a second. She’s always at everything and if she couldn’t make it my sister was there. To have that kind of support let me not have to balance stuff by myself. I learn to appreciate their support of me.”
Two people from two different parts of the world came together to raise a family that traveled the world before settling in Millington.
“I am not Turkish,” Karyme clarified. “I was born in Turkey on the U.S. Air Force Base. Dad is from North Memphis. And then Mom is from Panama City, Panama. They met through the military. His second tour through Panama he got stationed outside of Panama City. He saw my Mom walking on the beach one day and it was love from there.”
Over the past 18 years Karyme has grown to love her Panamanian and Memphis families.
“Everybody thinks people from Hispanic backgrounds come from one place,” she said. “They think they all come from Mexico. There are lots of traditions and their backgrounds are so different. Having a Mom from there and friends from there helps me see all of that.
“Helps me appreciate the difference there,” Karyme continued. “The difference between my Mom’s side of the family and my Dad’s side of the family is an intense difference. And it helps me appreciate that. You start noticing things different about people and appreciating it. People can be themselves around me.”
Ronald said Karyme’s genuine spirit and acceptance of others has helped her gain a larger support system.
“Ain’t it a wonderful thing to be loved by so many,” he asked rhetorically. “To carry that weight to know you represent not only one culture but two cultures and that lineage especially here in Memphis, the Millington area she has gone on to do wonderful things. She’s carrying on her heritage and it has to be a heavy weight but she’s doing it.”
Karyme said being a combination of African American and Hispanic has brought her a lot of joy as well. Rather if it’s Spanish or North Memphis slang being spoken at the table, Karyme cherishes the bonding.
“It’s fun and cooking when Dad’s family comes over,” she said. “Stories from then and now, a lot of teaching me. I’ve learn from some great mentors. It’s a little barbecue, games and talking.”
Then when Esilda’s family makes the trip to the States, Karyme is ready for another round of fellowship.
“It’s a little bet more difficult with the language barrier,” she said. “It’s still a lot of fun and storytelling. It sometimes like a little bit more effort because of the language barrier and I don’t see them so often. But whenever I do it’s always a good time. When you see them it’s like ‘Oh my God.’ It’s a lot of emotion and compassion each time. It’s instant love as soon as we see each other.”
That love motivated Karyme to make her family proud from the Caribbean Sea to the Mississippi River.
“I’m very proud,” she said. “I’m very proud of myself. My family is proud of me. They made a huge effort to let me know that as much as possible. I’m glad I can represent both sides of my family, both cultures. I hope they’re proud of me.”
Ronald said proud is just the beginning of the admiration the family has for Karyme.
“I wish I could predict the future,” he concluded. “But I know it’s endless for her. I teach all my children, you can do whatever you put your mind to if you keep God in your sights you’ll accomplish way more than you can think.”