2017-10-25 / Editorials

Mike Reese

“I was just thinking”

This week’s column is the second in a series of three with the first column explaining that we sometimes erroneously assume that greatness can’t be born from small school systems with small budgets in financially deficient areas of our state, like here in Jenkins County. Chester Joyner, PhD, in Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis, and a 2009 graduate of JCHS, was our first example of home grown “Greatness”. He’s now a researcher at Emory University.

My second story of local “Greatness”, a 2011 graduate from JCHS, is Ayana Walker. Ayana graduated from Shorter University in 2016 with a degree in Communications. She is the daughter of Leroy and Pamela Luke and Richard and Maria Brayboy.

Ayana now lives in Rome, Georgia where she is employed with the Rome-Floyd County Chamber of Commerce, specifically working in Economic Development and assisting in recruitment of new industries and businesses to Rome and Floyd County.

When asked about her memories of her Jenkins County education, she told me that her education, without the care and compassion of her teachers and all staff, would not have been as complete as it otherwise might have been. Ayana, appropriately gave credit, too, to her parents and other family members, who were always “kindly” pushing her to take advantage of what was being offered in her schools, elementary, middle, and high school. She noted that not being successful in her education was “not an option”.

While in high school, in addition to her academic successes, there was her remarkable success in track. We don’t have the space to mention all of her individual, as well as team accomplishments and records. I asked Ayana which one high school track record was she most proud. She thought for a moment and told me that the High Point Award was her most memorable. This is a cumulative award of points earned from her participation in several track and field events. I asked the same question relative to her college track career. Her answer was that she was most proud of being the first Shorter University student to earn a NCAA National Champion designation. The event she earned this title in was the indoor 400 meter run. There are other records, too. Let’s just say that Ayana is very talented, to be specific, very fast. And, she plans to continue her track career while still maintaining her “day job” in Rome. Ayana’s immediate goal is to remain healthy while continuing to train, hoping to qualify for the World Championship in Birmingham England and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Her track season is set to start in December.

Ayana e-mailed me later to make sure I gave a proper shout-out to her high school track coaches, Charlie Waters and Chuck Sanders. Without their guidance and support she said her goals could not have been achieved and also stating that, “I know those guys will always have my back like they did back then.” And, of course, another shout-out to her teammates from high school and college is due.

And finally, Ayana has been asked to be a keynote speaker for our new school dedication in Fall, 2018. There could not have been a better choice nor a better example for our current students in Jenkins County schools. Look for continued achievements from this young lady. And remember, her roots began right here in Jenkins County and its schools.

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