You only get out what put in. You can’t reap the rewards without putting in the work.
Georgia State Presidential Scholar of the Class of 2021 Brianna Smith has never had a problem doing the work. It was finding enough to challenge her.
About 500 students comprise the population of Gordon Lee High School, located in the small town of Chickamauga, GA (population: 3,100). Brianna sought out all the academic undertakings available to her and her fellow Trojans. Unfortunately for Brianna, there weren’t enough within the classrooms of Gordon Lee High to sate her hunger for learning.
“I kind of wish I’d gone to a bigger school,” said Brianna. “My school only offered three AP classes, so I read on my own to learn more about subjects that interested me.”
Aside from her classroom and supplementary reading, Brianna got involved with the typical school activities, like National Honor Society and Key Club. The band, however, she found the perfect outlet for her drive.
Brianna started playing the clarinet in the eighth grade and joined the marching band’s color guard in high school. During marching band season, she practiced two hours each day and found a passion for the work.
“I’m not one to get up in front of people and perform, but color guard is different,” said Brianna. “The band’s music is hype and you just want to give a perfect performance.”
Brianna’s senior year was filled with her schoolwork and color guard, for which she was team captain. As she was looking to life after high school, she wasn’t sure where she wanted to go or what she wanted to study.
At a college information session, she learned about Georgia State’s Honors College and found her post-high school objective.
“Once I heard about the Honors College, I was sold on Georgia State,” said Brianna.
She honed in on applying to Georgia State and its top scholarship for incoming freshmen, the Presidential Scholarship. With her good grades, awards and achievement, and extracurricular record, she was feeling confident. Her invitation to the interview round for the Presidential Scholarship confirmed her feelings.
Then she met some of Georgia State’s Presidential Scholars and her fellow candidates.
“I was feeling really confident until I met everyone,” said Brianna. “They were so impressive and were amazing ambassadors for all Georgia State has to offer.”
In the end, Brianna’s confidence was well-founded. She had put in the work and was ready for the interviews. When she found out she had received the scholarship, her decision was made.
In fact, she had already made her decision.
“I was going to go to Georgia State even if I didn’t get the Presidential Scholarship,” said Brianna. “But getting it made me a less anxious about college and figuring out how to pay for it.”
“Maybe the scholarship will enable me to go to graduate school, which wasn’t in the picture before.”
Brianna started at Georgia State in the fall of 2017 unsure of what she was going to major in. She’s enjoyed studying everything from literature to economics. She entered, however, knowing she was excited about finding new challenges in the classroom and as a member of the color guard for the Georgia State Panther Marching Band.
Brianna began college sure of one more thing: she was ready to get to work.