Cedar Hill Senior Headed to Johns Hopkins to Study Neuroscience

Gia Henderson with Longhorn statue
Photo courtesy Cedar Hill ISD

Aiming For The Stars

(CEDAR HILL, TEXAS) The New Year had just rolled around and with it, the hope that 2021 would be better than 2020.

For Cedar Hill High School senior Giovanna “Gia” Henderson, the fourth day of 2021 meant something completely different.

She didn’t know if it would be worth applying to Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and the application deadline was January 4.

A conversation with Cedar Hill English Teacher/Cheer Coach Chantoinae Phillips convinced Henderson to “aim for the stars” and electronically submit the application to the world-renowned university in Baltimore.

“Gia is probably one of the smartest scholars I’ve ever encountered but she likes to second guess herself,” Phillips said. “Her potential is just as impressive as a lot of Ivy League candidates. I told her, ‘every time I give you a task, you not only meet it, but you surpass it.’ That’s extremely rare, because I set high expectations for scholars.”

You Have To Apply To Be Accepted

Two and a half months later, Phillips was on the receiving end of a phone call.

“She called me one day screaming because she got in to Johns Hopkins,” Phillips said. “I was so excited for her. She deserves it.”

When she ultimately earns her JHU degree in a few years, Henderson will surely reach out to Phillips with a sincere ‘thank you’.

“Some of my teachers encouraged me to where I needed to be,” Henderson said. “My cheer coach who was also my English teacher texted me before I was doing my application, and she said you better apply to Johns Hopkins.”

Henderson, who ranks eighth in the Cedar Hill High School Class of 2021, plans on studying Neuroscience at JHU.

“I’ve known I wanted to be a doctor since I was 7 or 8 years old,” Henderson said. “That’s when I found out my grandmother had cancer. I wanted to help people going through similar things.”

Henderson’s grandmother survived and is still alive today. As she progressed through school, she became interested specifically in Behavioral Neuroscience.

“I wrote my essay on the JHU Application about my own history as a perfectionist and as someone who is really hard on myself who has overcome challenges,” said Henderson, who began attending CHISD as a Cedar Hill High School freshman in 2017.

Aside from Neuroscience, Henderson enjoys drawing, reading and writing poetry.

At Cedar Hill, Henderson took approximately 10 Advanced Placement Courses and appreciated all of the academic opportunities at CHHS. She was involved in HOSA (Future Health Professionals) and as a manager of the Cheer Team, which strengthened her relationship with Phillips.

Looking Forward To New Challenges

Henderson, a first generation college student, is looking forward to her time at Johns Hopkins, where she’ll meet new people and face new challenges.

“I appreciate the diversity and inclusivity of the college and the fact that I know it’s a place where I’ll be able to explore new things and be challenged,” Henderson said.

Her younger brother will be a junior at Cedar Hill High School. She knows she’ll miss him when they’re nearly 1,400 miles apart.

“We’ve never been apart, and he’s literally my best friend,”Henderson said. “But I am going to Johns Hopkins with a purpose.”