After a big gulp from the clarity bucket,
teen swaps traditional route for adventureBreana

Briana Bradner’s mother noticed the change in her daughter right away. It was as if someone had flipped a switch. “All of a sudden, her eyes were wide open. When she left, she was this sweet, giggly teenage girl having fun with her friends. When she came home after that weekend, she was not so giggly. Her maturity level went up — way up. She could see the big picture, and her own role in that picture,” said Colette Bradner, of Lake Havasu City. In 2010, Briana attended a Rotary Youth Leadership Camp in Prescott. It was there, during a weekend jammed with seminars, team-building exercises and new ways of thinking, that Briana had a cataclysmic“aha” moment. “It changed the way I viewed everything,” she wrote in an email. “On the drive home...I told myself that I only have one chance in life and I better make the best of it.”Hungry to taste all that life had to offer, Briana wanted to belly up to the buffet right away. To that end, she immediately increased her course load at Lake Havasu High School and Mohave Community College. She buckled down and graduated from high school one year early so she could move on to Part Two of her plan.“I leave Aug. 17 for Chile. I’m going to be an exchange student and live there for a year. By graduating from high school a year early, I’m still on track to start college at the ‘normal’ time when I get back,” she said. Briana doesn’t view skipping her traditional senior year as a great sacrifice. Her friends see it a little differently. “My best friend hates it. I think she may be in denial. Other people I know are really excited for me, and some think it’s dumb. My family is supportive. But here’s the thing. I’m two classes away from having my associate’s degree. I’ve worked really hard so I can take the time to do this.” “This” entails moving toTalagante, Chile, enrolling in school and basically repeating her high school senior course work. Her host family through the Rotary Student Exchange program includes three daughters, but two will be away at university and the third will be in the U.S. as an exchange student. Talagante, Chile, is near Santiago, the nation’s capital.  The area where Briana will reside has many campgrounds and is a favorite weekend getaway location for Santiagoans. Just as with Arizona, Chile has a variety of regional climates, ranging from deserts to alpine ski areas. The northern part of the nation is just south of the equator, while the southern tip of Chile is near Antarctica. Talagante is nearly in the center of the nation, about a two-hour drive from Pacific Ocean beaches. “I’ll be going to a private school that my host family is paying for. It’s a smaller school — 700 students in four grades. I won’t know what classes I’m taking until I get there,” Briana explained. While her class schedule is an unknown, Briana is quite aware that she’s in for a shock in terms of weather. “It’s winter there right now, so I’ll have to pack warm clothes,” she said in a phone call on Tuesday. “But I’m also taking my black yoga shorts. They’re my very favorite. I live in them. In fact, I’m wearing them right now. So yeah, the shorts will definitely be in my suitcase. I’m also taking a gold guardian angel necklace. My grandma gave it to me and I’ve worn it for three years. So the necklace is going with me, too.”•••Briana Bradner plans to stay in close touch with her

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