Rogers High School senior Sheree Gremillion said the expectations she places on herself are admittedly “through the roof.”
The 18-year-old makes straight-As, scored 33 of a possible 36 on her ACT and is a leader in her school and community.
She also is a ward of the state, having lived in the foster care system since she was 14 years old, residing at the North Alabama Christian Children’s Home.
On Thursday, Gremillion won the ACT College and Career Readiness award for the state, a designation given to Alabama’s top student who displays exemplary academic, professional, school and community dedication. Gremillion was one of five finalists for the award, each of whom had near perfect ACT scores and grade-point averages.
As the state’s winner, Gremillion is now a finalist for the national award to be announced in Washington, D.C., in May.
Gremillion admits her background has played a major role in her determination to succeed educationally as well as in life.
“I try hard to be a good person and a leader in my school,” she said.
“I have a different perspective from most kids, I guess, because I’ve been in foster care throughout my teenage years and I’ve never been given stuff but have always had to work for it,” she said.
“Without the support of a (biological) family, I’ve had to earn what I have. It’s not a bad life, it’s just different from the kind of life other students have had. I’ve used my situation as an opportunity to better myself and break out of the cycle.
“When most kids had parents supporting them financially, I grew up on food stamps and have literally come from nothing.”
Gremillion said her motivation to succeed comes from her desire to be a travel nurse and ultimately work on the mission field in developing countries.
She plans to attend Freed Hardeman University and major in nursing and Spanish. She wants to make a difference in the world because, she said, she can identify with those who have little.
In her nomination letter for the award, Gremillion’s science teacher Traci Jones wrote that Gremillion works hard and is highly motivated.
“I’m so proud of her for scoring 33 on her ACT,” she wrote. “This score, coupled with her grades and work ethic in my classes, speaks volumes about her academic ability.”
When her biological father died a year ago, Gremillion began receiving a Social Security check. She used the money for ACT tutoring in an effort to raise her score in hopes of college scholarships. The plan worked, her score increased and the scholarship money came.
Rogers High School Principal Mike Stamps said that what Gremillion has accomplished, particularly given her life circumstances, “has been nothing short of amazing.”
“It would have been very easy for her to sit back and not achieve,” Stamps said. “She inspires me, and her motivation is inspiration for what anyone can achieve if they have the desire. She should be a wake-up call to kids that have tremendous advantages in life and are taking them for granted.”
Lisa Singleton-Rickman can be reached at 256-740-5735 or lisa.singleton-rickman@TimesDaily.com.