OVERCOMERS: Students recognized for academic excellence in face of adversity

Published 4:00 am Friday, May 4, 2018

Some students are honored for high ACT scores, others for highest grade point averages, but the four students honored Thursday by the Troy Exchange Club had a different accomplishment: getting through adversity.

Although she didn’t say which student had which backstory, Diane Aman said one of the students lived through a near-fatal car crash and the grief of losing family members in the incident. Another overcame a rare medical condition that required amputation at a young age. Yet another of the students suffered from chronic asthma and the other from family problems.

“We call them overcomers,” Aman said. “We applaud the overcomers with us today that stand before you. We recognize these students who with sheer will overcame these great odds.”

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The four students recognized at the luncheon Thursday were Ja’Kayla Vail of Pike County High School, Payton Robinson of Charles Henderson High School, Robyn Edwards of Goshen High School and William “B.J.” Burke of Pike Liberal Arts School. Each nominee earned a $100 check and certificate of recognition.

Of the nominees, Robinson was named the recipient of the A.C.E. (Accepting the Challenge of Excellence) award of $1,000 and a plaque.

Robinson said he hopes to continue on to college and pursue a degree in civil engineering with a minor in architecture and envisions himself in Atlanta in 10 years working in civil engineering.

In his application, Robinson wrote: “I prayed because that’s what I knew to do. I allowed negativity to motivate me. I knew education would be the foundation that will allow me to give back to community around me. I will use expertise to inspire youth around me.”

“I think you have a bright future and we’re proud to spur you on,” Aman told Robinson after announcing him as the recipient. Robinson will now compete at the district level and could move on to the national competition where he would be eligible for a $10,000 award.

“These awards are meant to encourage students to overcome hardships and receive that high school diploma,” Aman said. “The second objective is to recognize students that might not other wise receive recognition.”

Edwards plans to attend Wallace Community College to pursue a degree in nursing and she eventually wants to work as a pediatric nurse.

Vail is planning on attending Troy University to major in business administration with a minor in psychology and see herself moving to the United Kingdom to find work and start a family.

Burke is attending Harding University to play football at a collegiate level and sees himself finding work somewhere in Arkansas once he is out of school.