Aubreigh Brooks overcomes obstacles to receive Jimmy Rane Foundation Scholarship

Published 11:41 am Monday, May 8, 2023

Pike Liberal Arts School senior Aubreigh Brooks was recently named one of the recipients of the 2023 Jimmy Rane Foundation Scholarship. Brooks overcame some pretty drastic obstacles to reach this point.

The Rane Foundation Scholarship was founded by longtime Alabama businessman – and Abbeville native – Jimmy Rane with the purpose of sending deserving students to college. The Rane Foundation has awarded more than 620 scholarships over the years and Pike Lib’s Brooks is one of the 2023 recipients.

“I am so honored and so blessed to get it,” Brooks said. “It’s a huge deal and I really couldn’t believe it. I’m just so honored and thankful and blessed. It’s going to allow me to be able to pursue my dreams of becoming a nurse.”

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Brooks – who will attend Troy University – is a part of the Student Government Association (SGA) at PLAS along with being a member of the National Honors Society, Excel Club, Twilighters Club and Interact Club. While Brooks said that she’s wanted to be a nurse for a long time, her struggles with medical issues during her high school career solidified that point.

“I’ve always wanted to go into the medical field,” she said. “That’s all I’ve really wanted to do since I could think about it, especially after getting sick. That really changed my mindset and gave me passion for it. I want to help people and try to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Brooks was an active 15-year old student a few years ago. She was an athlete, a member of the Pike Lib softball team and a dancer. Then, Brooks came down with COVID-19 and her life changed.

“I was perfectly healthy before I got COVID,” Brooks said. “I was playing sports and did dance and I worked out every single day. I was extremely active. Then, I got COVID and everything went south from there.”

Brooks didn’t just have a bad case of COVID, however. She was ultimately diagnosed with Dysautonomia, a disorder of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) functions. The ANS is in charge of involuntary functions like breathing. As much is still unknown about long haul COVID, and all of the repercussions that COVID has on some people’s bodies, doctors still aren’t 100 percent sure if she had the disorder previously and it was triggered by COVID but the symptoms began to appear after.

“I had all the (COVID) symptoms (at first), nothing major,” Brooks recalled. “I had a lingering headache and a week later more symptoms would come. I’m a kid that pays attention and does my school work but I was laying my head down on my desk and couldn’t do my work and really couldn’t function.”

Brooks alerted her parents to the fact that something wasn’t right. The symptoms began to get worse and worse as time went on and for months doctors couldn’t figure out the cause until she was finally diagnosed with Dysautonomia. During that time, Brooks suffered from seizures and stroke-like symptoms. Her heart rate would rise into the high 180s from something as simple as sitting up in bed. Doctors also discovered a brain bleed.

“I was bed bound, my dad would have to carry me to the bathroom,” she recalled. “Every where I went I had to go in a wheelchair and for months I was just in bed and couldn’t get up.”

Through it all, Brooks began to recover and while she’s still dealing with the results of the disorder, she’s been able to return to being a great student and earned a scholarship that will help her chase her dreams.

“I’m so blessed for all the people that helped us get through this,” Brooks said. “People I don’t even know were helping my parents financially to be able to get these different kinds of treatments. I don’t know what we would have done. I know my parents are proud of me and it’s an honor to receive this scholarship.”

Her parents, Drew Brooks and Jamie Brooks, reiterated their daughter’s point about people in the community having their backs.

“Our family is very grateful to all of those that helped us through this sickness,” Drew Brooks said. “We were helped with prayers, helped monetarily. We really would like to thank everyone that helped us through this trying time. People just came out of the woodworks to help us. Pike Liberal Arts was extremely good to us, too. (Headmaster) Mr. (Eric) Burkett and the school stood beside us through it all.”

KC Bradford

Fellow PLAS senior KC Bradford is another Pike Lib student that is seeing hard work pay off as he is the recipient of Troy University’s Chancellor’s Scholarship, which will cover his full tuition.

“I’m very thankful for this opportunity and very grateful to be recognized and awarded with it,” Bradford said. “It’s an honor and a privilege and I’m very thankful.”

In fact, Bradford has received a number of scholarships. The total monetary value of the scholarships Bradford has been awarded is $1.2 million. While he obviously can’t accept all of those scholarships, the amount he’s received is a testament to the work he’s put in.

“None of it is given. I’m very thankful but it was earned,” Bradford emphasized. “From the time I was little, putting in the time to study and creating good study habits, and being blessed with a school and faculty that helps me to be the best I can be all plays a part. I hope later in life, through these awards and my next step in education, I’m able to represent my school and my family well.”

Bradford is an all-state baseball player and a star football player at Pike Lib, as well. As a result, he’s earned a preferred walk-on (PWO) spot on Troy’s football team. Bradford also is Pike’s salutatorian and is a member of numerous groups and clubs in school. He’s the SGA President and Chaplain, along with being the President of the Calculus Club and chaplain of the National Honors Society. He was a Bryant-Jordan nominee, won the Heisman High School Award and was on Troy University’s dual enrollment Chancellor’s List.

“Time management is a very important thing and learning how to deal with that and where your priorities need to be are big,” Bradford said. “Understanding how to do that is really important. Once you put your goals and what’s important first, everything falls in line.

“I put God and family first and everything else falls in line. What you’re passionate about, you’ll strive to reach those goals. That’s why you wake up in the morning.”

As a star athlete at PLAS, Bradford said that sports taught him a lot.

“Athletics have taught me many, many lessons throughout the years,” Bradford said. “I spent countless hours on a field, in the weight room and studying the game. It taught me how to prioritize and build relationships and put in the work for the things I want. You can’t just show up and do something, you have to put in the work. Nothing is given, everything is earned.”

Bradford is also a nominee for the Tip Colley Award.