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In Memory Of Jennifer Rose Cernuto

Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 5, 2011, the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. McHenry) is recognized for 30 minutes.

Rep. Patrick T. McHenry

legislator photo

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to pay tribute to an amazing young lady from my district that was taken from us far too soon and far too young. Jennifer Rose Cernuto was a resident of Mooresville, North Carolina, in Iredell County in my district, and had just graduated from high school in May.

She was looking forward to beginning college as part of the honors program at High Point University in the fall. Jennifer and her twin sister, Stephanie, served as interns in my district office in Hickory last year. My staff still talks about them and the great work that they did and their wonderful personalities and their real gift for service.

Both Jennifer and Stephanie's interest and passion for learning the inner workings of government and the district office and the political process were far beyond their years. But it was in dealing with constituents and helping people that both Jennifer and Stephanie truly blossomed.

In fact, the Cernutos had an ability to speak to constituents, many of whom were upset about a problem that they were having or an encounter they had with a government agency or perhaps that their veterans benefits or a similar program weren't working for them. Calmly, they would document their issues and take good care with a thoroughness that most lifelong caseworkers would envy. It was as if they had been on the job for years.

It was no surprise that Jennifer excelled in this type of work. Whether at school, at church, in everyday life, helping people was a hallmark of Jennifer Cernuto's life. In fact, she and Stephanie had just returned from Peru with a group of their fellow graduates from Southlake Christian Academy, where they helped build classrooms and held Bible study classes for indigent children.

Jennifer and Stephanie, you know, they come from a great family. I have known their parents, Jeff and Lisa, for several years, and I am honored to count them as friends. They are some of Mooresville's most outgoing and most charitable people. And with fine parents like these, it's no wonder Jennifer, Stephanie, and their older sister, Samantha, turned out to be the fine young women that they did. Incredible, special, young ladies.

But tragedy struck this family and the entire Mooresville community over the July 4 weekend when Jennifer and Stephanie were involved in an automobile accident. Sadly, Jennifer was taken on that day and Stephanie was injured. But, thankfully, thank the Lord, she survived.

Thousands later turned out for Jennifer's memorial service and funeral. People asked, why did so many people, thousands of people, come out to this extraordinary 18-year-old young lady's funeral? It was, I think, put in the best words by the head of school at Southlake Christian Academy, Wayne Parker. He said, ``Jennifer was full of joy that easily drew others, as she allowed her love of the Lord to shine through her.''

Jennifer Rose Cernuto was a fine young lady, an impressive individual, and I was honored to know her. My staff still has the highest praise that they got to work with her. I say to Jeff and Lisa: You did a wonderful job raising that fine young lady. And I say to not just Jeff and Lisa but to Samantha and especially Stephanie, that the lives that Jennifer affected you can never count, but she had a wonderful and amazing impact in her brief time on this Earth. Her service will not be forgotten.

With that, I want to pay great honor and to remember Jennifer Rose Cernuto for the wonderful person and the wonderful individual she was in her brief time on this Earth. I want to say thank you for the opportunity to have known her.

I yield back the balance of my time.