Even though DePena came from the city, she was able to adapt to the rural community and take advantage of many opportunities offered at the school. DePena traveled to Costa Rica, France, Spain and England through the school’s study abroad program.
“I liked her sense of adventure and willingness to try new things and her willingness to do more work. She wanted that challenge and there’s an energy about her that benefitted people around here.”
Makechnie said he was not surprised when he learned of DePena’s foundation to help others like herself.
“It’s not required, but it’s always our hope that when we allocate money for students they seize the opportunity and at some level take it forward,” Makechnie said.
“Her initiative to create the scholarship speaks of our tangible desire to help other people and it makes Proctor very proud,” he said.
Noreen Fifield, basketball coach at Proctor, agreed.
“She always seized the day and now she wants to return it to other people,” she said.
DePena joined the basketball team at Proctor and Fifield said she always put the team first, looking for the open woman on the court, they were her sisters and always had each other’s back.
Before DePena joined the Hornets varsity basketball team, they had never won a championship. In 2008 they not only ended the season 20-1, but made history by winning the New England championship.
“Winning the championship was amazing,” she said.
Basketball is now on the back burner concentrating her efforts on Top Notch Network, to help others achieve their dreams and change Lawrence’s negative image.
“Growing up in Lawrence is what made me the person I am today. If Lawrence is so bad, I wouldn’t be able to do all I’ve done. You have to be a go-getter, get involved and help make the change,” she said.