By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN
(CNN) – Rochelle Ballantyne plays chess the same way she walks through the streets of New York, determined to reach her goal without letting any obstacles slow her down.
The 17-year-old student from Brooklyn is just a few wins away from becoming the first female African-American to attain the ranking of chess master.
"I've never been the first anything so having that title next to my name is going to... it's going to feel amazing."
She crushes her opponents in a sport dominated by men.
Ballantyne grew up in a single-parent home in the working class neighborhood of East Flatbush. She first learned to play chess from her grandmother, who didn't want Rochelle's background to limit or prevent her from reaching her fullest potential. Ballantyne did not disappoint.
"When I push myself, then nothing can stop me."
Listen to the story on CNN Radio's Soundwaves blog
Congratulations! Now that's a story worth sharing.
Amazing, I can imagine that being beaten at the table by such a pretty girl would take most of the sting out of it, too. It would put a heck of a smile on MY face.
Good job. Go get'm kid
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Send Feedback | Subscribe