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Angela Pederson fights health issues and comes out on top

When Angela Pederson first learned of the Shining Star Banquet, and that she had won an award, she reacted first with shock and confusion, then with gratitude.

To become an NJPA Shining Star recipient, Angela Pederson of Pine River thrived in spite of health issues. Photo by Travis Grimler
To become an NJPA Shining Star recipient, Angela Pederson of Pine River thrived in spite of health issues. Photo by Travis Grimler
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When Angela Pederson first learned of the Shining Star Banquet, and that she had won an award, she reacted first with shock and confusion, then with gratitude.

"There was one day at lunch," said Pederson, a Pine River-Backus student. "Mrs. Sigan came to me and told me I had been selected for the NJPA award. I asked, 'What are you talking about? What's that?'"

She found out that her teacher Kristin Lindholm had nominated her.

"I saw her and ran and gave her a big hug," Pederson said. "I was really excited. I didn't know my other classmate had also been nominated until a couple weeks prior to the celebration."

"I nominated Angela because she is an incredibly hard worker who often is under the radar in recognition," Lindholm said.

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In her nomination, Lindholm wrote, "Angela is indeed an unsung hero. I have the pleasure of having Angela in my English 12 class, where she diligently works hard each and every day. She is a gifted writer, reader and communicator. I appreciate Angela's desire to do well in school, and I absolutely admire the way in which she carries herself. While mostly quiet in class, Angela is not afraid to speak her mind when someone is being treated unfairly. She is also an advocate for those needing extra encouragement. She is willing to stand up for what she believes, not matter what. Angela is an amazing human being."

On April 13 Pederson was given her plaque and scholarship and to compound the excitement, on April 23 she was standing on stage before prom.

"I actually thought my friend, Katey Hansen, was going to win," Pederson said. "I really wanted her to. She doesn't get recognized for anything. As the crown was going around I told her, 'You're totally going to get it.' She said, 'No, you're going to get it.' and it was placed on me. I was really happy and overwhelmed."

Pederson is active in extracurricular activities, but she said she only found recognition on a few occasions. In Dance club she became a captain and she has been on stage for some school plays. Otherwise, she has usually shared the spotlight.

"I never considered myself in the spotlight," Pederson said. "I've always wanted to be but it's hard for me. I've also been In Miss Pine River (twice) but I've never won anything."

Most of her extracurricular activities are music based, including parts in school musicals, dance, choir and orchestra.

"I've been involved with band since I was in fifth grade," Pederson said. "In choir I went from fifth through seventh grade. I stopped from (grades) 8-11, but Mrs. Batcher last year said, 'You are joining choir, no matter what.' I got put in choir this year and now I'm in senior choir, chamber choir and women's choir."

Music was incredibly important to her.

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"It's very important to me," Pederson said. "I love music. I grew up on music, pretty much. It's always been part of my life. In a way, it's like a savior to me. It really helps me through hard times."

Hard times have included Grave's Disease resulting in surgery to remove her thyroid and depression and anxiety.

"I think I had a lot of support through what my true friends are today and my mom always pushing me to strive for the best even through the hard times," Pederson said.

Pederson is not native to Pine River. She was adopted at the age of two months in Little Rock Arkansas. She has been in Pine River almost all of her school years. She has twelve siblings and lands almost squarely in the middle age-wise.

"It's kind of, in a way, when I was in the midst of my teenage years I found it a little embarassing," Pederson said. "My parents drove a mini bus around town, I didn't want to be seen. I've learned to embrace it. I have a big family... In a way we are all kind of close. We all have that special bond with each individual one of us."

Like many high school students, Pederson has a job. Unlike many high school students, hers required a certificate.

"I do PCA(Patient Care Assistant) work for my younger sister," Pederson said. "I took a test for it. I had to study and then I passed and got my certificate. Then I could work with her."

Pederson is otherwise a normal student with normal interests.

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"We (friends) usually watch a lot of movies," Pederson said. "We go to the movies too. We like to talk a lot and have deep conversations, talking about our week and how we feel."

With the scholarship she won from NJPA, Pederson plans to attend Model College of Hair Design in St. Cloud.

"I've always been curious about how people do hair, makeup and nails and secretly I thought 'I want to do that, but I don't think I can.'" Pederson said. "I really wanted to get into it and finally I decided, 'Okay, I kind of want to do this for a living and I want to go here.' I start three weeks after graduation."

After ten months, Pederson will be ready to work in the hair industry. She intends to move to the cities after that.

"I'm looking forward to actually getting into the experience and just getting that real work environment," Pederson said. "We work with real clients and classmates."

"I am absolutely thrilled that she was recognized. She deserves this honor," Lindholm said.

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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