My name is Miss Stephanie McNeil, and I am a child of God.  Born in Fayetteville, North Carolina at Cape Fear Valley on June 8th, 1970 to Brenda K. and Charley Jr. McNeil-yes I am their first of three children. My dad was military and thus I have spent most of my life abroad.  I graduated overseas from General H. H. Arnold High School in Wiesbaden Germany class of 1988 in top 20 percentile.  I also, graduated college from Shaw University in 1993 Suma Cum Laude with a GPA of 3.89 out of 4.0 and on the Dean’s (President’s) list all four years.  While at Shaw, I was Athlete of the year and Overall Academic Athlete of the year in Cross Country, Indoor, and Outdoor Track and Field (yes, all four years).  I lead Shaw University’s Track Team all four years in most points received in Cross Country, Indoor, and Outdoor track events.  My freshman year I was Athlete of the year and MVP in Cross Country, Indoor, and Outdoor track. My Sophomore year, while maintaining a 4.0 GPA, I was Athlete of the year, Highest GPA Athlete of the year, and MVP in Cross Country, Indoor, and Outdoor track, I was voted Overall Female Athlete of the Year, Overall Highest GPA, Academic Athlete of the year, and I played volleyball and softball for all four years too. I also, pledge Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated. Yes, that year I walked away from the Athletic Banquet with Seventeen total Awards.  My Junior year I was  MVP in Cross Country, Co- MVP Indoor, and Outdoor track, Highest GPA, and Athlete of the year.  Finally my Senior year I was, Overall Highest GPA, Academic Athlete of the year, MVP Cross Country, Co-MVP, indoor and MVP Outdoor track.

I attended Fayetteville State University and obtained my Lateral Entry Status for teaching English as well as maintaining a 3.8 and above GPA. All the while I was teaching, at E. E. Smith High School, Pine Forest High School in which I was Teacher of the Year 1997-1998.  From there I taught at Anne Chesnutt Middle School for seven years and was named Teacher of the Year there in 2003-2004.  I moved on to teach at Westover Middle School for three years. I am currently, an English teacher teaching at Westover High School in which I was Teacher of the Year and Westover District Winner 2010-2011. I have been teaching for twenty years.  I have been coaching for just as long every sport.  I truly love teaching and coaching. However, four years ago I had a life altering experience when I was diagnosed with Lymphedema breast cancer and I had to stop coaching and working at my part time job at the recreational center. I started receiving treatment here in Fayetteville, and after several doctors who treated me as if I had already died, I prayed to God to remove me from their hands.  I left one doctor’s office in tears; that same day I went to the Recreational Center and researched online possible treatment alternatives and facilities.  I seriously just pushed the enter button and not even one minute later, I received a call from the Cancer Treatment Center of America in Philadelphia.  The voice on the other end (Jeff) informed me of the types of treatment, the facility, and the team of doctors that I would have if accepted into the treatment center.  Ironically, he had to make sure that my insurance was acceptable.  I hung up.  Received a call back from him stating that they did not accept my insurance plan, that I had an independent code when I actuality I had a group plan that was acceptable.  Let me tell you how God works.  While on the phone with him and feeling rejected, someone else was calling in on another line telling me that there was an oversight in reading my insurances plan and that they did accept my plan.   The next day, I was on a plane headed to Philadelphia to “check-out” this facility to see if would be the “place” for me.  I received a three day tour and was on my way out, when the president of the center stopped me in the hall asked me if I was there for an interview (no joke).  I told him I was a possible patient.  He admired my smile and spirit.  He asked was I satisfied with the services, I said yes, but was on my way home.   I told him that I was scheduled to receive a port to feed the chemo and had to leave so that I could get back to Fayetteville. He asked was I going to accept the center as my place of treatment, because if I did they could put the port in that very minute.  Here is God working it out for me again!  Two hours later I was on the operating table receiving my port for chemo and treatments. Chemo was very doable.   I finally had a plan to which I felt benefited me and a team of twenty-three doctors or more who genuinely cared about my feelings and getting better.  At first, I would receive chemo ever week flying to Philly on Friday or Saturday and back home on the same day to resume my mother duties.  It was not a wonderful experience, but with the grace of God and meds that managed my side effects, I would only be sick for short periods of time. I worked through it.  It was not always easy but doable.  I did make the final decisions, even though the cancer was gone, to have my right breast and lymphnoids removed March 4, 2010.  The doctors removed a 4.5 mm mass taken then taxotere/Cytoxan chemo and 35 rad treatments later I am cancer free. I was in stage 4 (Wow, ironically my favorite number) and not too many people find their way from stage four cancer. My words of advice for anyone no matter his or her situation, “If you are not uncomfortable with the doctor you are with, get a new doctor or a second opinion.”  “It is your body.”   I was really afraid but I did chemo and I am alive and cancer free because of God, surgery, chemo, the doctors and nurses.    The treatment was worth anything I went through to still be here. I have been on the up and up ever since.    God Bless!

I am a single parent who enjoyed the experiences working with children and coaching, often if not always my daughter would attend work with me volunteering or playing sports too. Unfortunately, while volunteering the summer I was diagnosed, during summer camp and my daughter, Azha, got extremely ill.  Two hours after being diagnosed with breast cancer, we found out that her appendix were about to burst.  Four hours later, she was having emergency appendectomy.  This is just proof that when life throws you a curve ball swing away, what I mean is when while living learn to expect changes, hardships, and maybe even  a few catastrophes to come one’s way.

As for me I live life to the fullest, and my biggest dream of all is to be remembered. I want to touch people in such a way that they will never forget who I am. I plan to do this by simply giving my all and modeling behaviors that people find comforting, such as giving, sharing, loving, and caring!  I am an English teacher who loves to read and share stories, thus I want my students or people in general to tell their grandchildren stories about me and for them to tell their grandchildren and so on. That way, I will still be alive years after I actually die. However, this will be very difficult.

I do not know where to start in my quest for being remembered, yet every day I wake up, take a shower, get dressed, brush my teeth, and do whatever I have planned for the day. That’s certainly nothing to be remembered for, but it is only how I begin my day.

If I go to work, I maintain a smile as well. Yes, it gets stressful at work. Students and coworkers can be really crabby to the point where I want to scream, but the smile stays put. I heard somewhere that it takes fewer muscles to smile than it does to frown. So, I may not have a very muscular face, but I do have a happy atmosphere about me.

At home life is different. I am a single parent whose world revolves around my daughter.  If I model success it is truly indicative of how blessed my child has turned out to be!  She graduated salutatorian from E.E. Smith high school in 2014, she was an elite athlete is several sports, and a phenomenal daughter who loves her mother. We will be remembered because there is not a place that I go or one she goes in which someone does not ask about the two of us.  No one knows me like my daughter for she knows both inside and out. Yet she would say my mom is, a complex being composed of atoms and molecules and many emotions and thoughts. I smile even when my world is shattering because I feel like smiling is a gift. When you give one you tend to receive one in return, and maybe, just maybe, you touch the person you give it to. She would say my mom always gives and wishes for nothing but the best in others.  Which brings me back to my point of wanting to be remembered?  If being remembered is a measure or a testimony of what one does while on earth then I leave behind a legacy of life, mystery, wonder, magic, and my smile!

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