Therrell High’s Valedictorian Triumphs Over Adversity
Kia-Symone Surrell was born in Oakland, California to Keiyauna and Alton Surrell. In her early adolescent years, her future was not foreshadowed to be as bright as it is today. While living in California, Kia was besieged by an environment that was unfit for a growing child. She lived in both her father’s and mother’s homes simultaneously after they separated from their violent relationship. However, she could not find peace at either home because of the issues present at both which exposed her to a lifestyle she did not want for herself in the future. In her father’s home, there was always a struggle to provide food. In her mother’s home, she was always surrounded by a plethora of people that created a daily party environment. The decisions her parents made in the past were negatively affecting their lives today and Kia’s as well. Kia’s parents urged her to take a different path than they did, but she refused to listen. Instead of using her circumstances as motivation to change her life, she mirrored her parent’s actions. Earning mediocre grades and acting out in school, Kia was on the road to becoming one of another generation of high school dropouts.
In the hopes of creating a better life for Kia, her mother, and sister, her grandmother, Johnnie Curtis, suggested that her mother move them to Atlanta, Georgia for a new beginning. Kia’s mother took her up on the offer and moved them across the country. Kia despised her mother for moving her away from her friends to a place where she knew no one, yet Kia did not know this move would change her life. Hoping Kia’s mother would feel responsible for her misery, Kia began to act in an anti-social manner in school. Having no one to distract her, she actually made an effort to learn and comprehend the material given. Kia found herself invigorated by learning new things and began to find interest in different subjects. Being in a new environment opened Kia’s eyes to a life without constant struggles and something to look forward to in life.
Kia was a leader at her school, involved in several extra-curricular activities such as Varsity Soccer, Varsity Volleyball, Student Governments Association, Technology Students Association, JROTC, Excelsior App Team, National Honors Society, and National Beta Club. Kia has also received academic awards over the duration of her high school years such as, 1st place in the Georgia Technology Fair, 1st place in her school’s science fair, most outstanding in Spanish, English, Science, and AP Statistics. Kia also received the title of Best Defensive Player on the soccer team for the 2015-2016 school year. Her biggest accomplishments are being named the D.M. Therrell High School’s 2015-2016 Valedictorian and a Gates Millennium Scholar. Kia will attend Howard University in the fall of 2016 to pursue her education in pre-dental studies. Although Kia has received many blessings over these last few months, she experienced the loss of her mother on June 11, 2016. Kia’s mother was very proud to see her graduate and Kia is glad her mother got to experience that momentous occasion with her. Kia is determined to shift this battle into motivation to continue to make her parents proud.