An 18-year-old brilliant lady Aylah Birks has emerged best-graduating student of Twiggs County High School Georgia and won $4.5 million in scholarships from 113 universities.
Birks who graduated with a 4.0 GPA is the only third student from the district to win Gates Scholarship and she competed against 34,000 other applicants to become just one of 300 winners nationwide.
The Gates Scholarship (TGS) is a highly selective, last-dollar scholarship for outstanding, minority, high school seniors from low-income households. Each year, the scholarship is awarded to exceptional student leaders, with the intent of helping them realize their maximum potential.
Scholars will receive funding for the full cost of attendance which includes tuition, fees, room, board, books, and transportation, and may include other personal costs.
Birks is also an author who wrote the book “Perspective Through the Looking Glass” which has poetry and personal stories of her experiences. She credits all her accomplishments to her mother.
“I think the main driving force behind these accomplishments has to be my mother. Just seeing her tireless effort of always taking the time out to read me a story, or teach me something new as a child,” she told 11Alive.
However, when her mother had to take care of an ill grandparent a few years ago, they didn’t have much time together anymore. Understanding their situation, she had to figure out things by herself more often.
“It was not easy and you will have no idea how many long nights I stayed up trying to find out the information for myself on college deadlines, college admission expectations, what to do, what not to do,” she said.
Moreover, she was often bullied by other students at school but she did not let that stop her from achieving her dreams. In fact, she now became an advocate for anti-bullying.
“I was often bullied and I didn’t understand why, but when you’re bullied…people see something in you that they don’t see in themselves,” she said.
After graduating high school on a high note, she plans to major in behavioral neuroscience and legal studies with minors in communications and public health. From several universities to choose from, she already narrowed down her choices to two: Clemson and Mercer.
“My story is not ending in Twiggs County, but it’s only just beginning. I think the most rewarding part is that I’ve made my family proud and I’ve made myself proud.”