She considered Brown, Clemson and Columbia, but in the end Kierra Grayson chose Cornell because she felt it would put her in the best position academically for medical school.
“Once I visited the campus I knew I made the right decision,” the Battery Creek High School Valedictorian says.
The 18-year old received a distinguished diploma for completing more than 100 hours of community service and other academic criteria during her high school years. She juggled advance placement courses, health science classes and a variety of clubs while never getting anything less than an A on her report cards. The payoff for her hard work includes the full scholarship from Cornell as well as local scholarships from the Nu Delta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Zeta Phi Beta, Ladies of the Lowcountry, and The Robert Smalls Association. Additionally, she received the South Carolina Student Readiness Award from the ACT College and Career Readiness Campaign.
Kierra credits her mother, Michelle, for being the guiding force in her life. “She has always allowed me to be exactly as I am,” she says. “She was never the type of parent that forced me into a mold. She gave me the tools to lead a successful life.”
The self-described risk-taker says she loves to try new things and doesn’t always take the conventional path to accomplish her goals. In fact, it’s the advice she offers to students heading to their first year of high school.
“Try new things. Believe in yourself. Don’t be afraid to let go of things and people that aren’t progressing along with you on your journey. It is never too early to start investing in your future.”
Her advice for high school seniors reflects the wisdom of someone who understands the changes ahead of her.
“Everything is temporary so enjoy your last year of carefree living while you can. Don’t place too much emphasis on minor details. Do things just because and don’t procrastinate anything.”
Kierra plans to attend medical school after graduating from Cornell, with an eye toward specializing in obstetrics and gynecology. She also wants to start a non-profit organization for young people to constructively cultivate interests, learn new skills, seek advice or just hang out.
“Today’s youth are growing up too fast,” she says. “They need to know it is okay to be a kid. I want to create an organization that supports the need for children to find their innocence again.”
With the drive, focus and determination that created this valedictorian, there’s little doubt that Kierra will accomplish each of these goals and more.