Criminal justice undergraduate Ronnie Bryant is one of three students profiled as fall 2016 Georgia State graduates on the university’s website at gsu.edu. Following is the full feature. The Andrew Young School celebrates Bryant for her many achievements and for so powerfully modeling student success at Georgia State University.
When Ronnie Bryant hurls a discus – like a Frisbee but much heavier — across a field, it’s with as much force as she has pushed in her own life.
A track and field athlete for Georgia State, the native of Miami chooses to practice with the nearly 4 ½ pound version – intended for men – rather than those intended for women, weighing half as much.
“It’s definitely a headache,” she said. “But we do that to get stronger.”
Bryant’s life has been full of challenges that have made her stronger, too.
Growing up, she and her siblings faced physical abuse and neglect.
“There were days where we missed school because we had marks and other things on our bodies that she would have gotten in trouble for if anybody in school saw them,” she said.
Like other abused children, if teachers asked about suspicious bruises, cuts or scrapes, they chalked the injuries up to “accidents,” for fear of incurring even more of their mother’s wrath.
It’s part of what inspired her to pursue a degree in criminal justice.
“At the time I thought, if I became a police officer and I saw these signs, I myself could relate,” Bryant said.
She also found the strength to cope with emotional abuse after her parents found out that she was attracted to other girls.
“I was pretty much put into prison within my room,” Bryant said. “I wasn’t allowed to go outside, to do any after school activities, play with friends – anything.”
Through it all, she has persevered, becoming a first-generation college student. And just as she helped make sure her sisters and brothers ate, got to school and did their homework, she’s helping them navigate college – dealing with financial aid, registration and other parts of college life.
Bryant is now looking for a new challenge, seeking to enroll in a master’s program for information systems audit and control.
The numerous challenges over her life didn’t bring her down.
And they ultimately made her stronger, giving her confidence to take an eye-opening study abroad trip to Trinidad – something she never thought she’d do as a first-generation college student.
“I can say it has been the number one experience of my years here at Georgia State,” Bryant said. “I made some awesome friends, learned a lot, and would definitely go back.
“Even if you’re nervous about it, I’d suggest anyone go ahead and take that leap,” she said.