Name: Amonica Kirkland
High School: Portal Middle High School (Bulloch County)
College (Current or Future): Wesleyan College
Major/Intended Major: Spanish
It sounds like a stereotype, but for Amonica Kirkland, her biggest inspiration was there from the very beginning.
“I am one of seven children, and it is because of (my mother Benita Palmer’s) love and support that I am where I am today,” said Kirkland, who recently completed a journey started by five seventh graders nearly a decade ago.
In 2013, Kirkland was part of Bulloch County Schools’ first cohort of REACH Georgia Scholarship recipients along with Amaya Brown, Kailana Low, Aisley Scarboro, and De’Neshia Jones. Recently featured in the Georgia Virtue, all have accomplished the district’s overall mission.
“When you think of our school district’s mission to help prepare students for success and enhance the value of our community, REACH (helped to) do just that,” said Charles Wilson, superintendent of Bulloch County Schools. “We are changing the future one day and one student at a time.”
As a student, Kirkland took full advantage of the many State Aid Programs available to all Georgia residents. Before graduating from Portal Middle High School, she used Dual Enrollment to take courses at Ogeechee Technical College and Georgia Southern University.
“It is because of my mom that I have always known the importance of receiving an education,” said Kirkland, a 2022 Wesleyan College graduate. “My mother has always pushed me, not only academically, but in all sectors of my life.
“It is because of her that I am a first-generation college graduate, and I will forever be grateful.”
She is also grateful for programs like the Georgia Tuition Equalization Grant, aiding students with non-need based funding at eligible private colleges within the state. While at Wesleyan, Kirkland received this grant as well as the HOPE Scholarship.
“I learned about most of these programs through my high school counselor, Mr. Bettinger,” said Kirkland, who finished her undergraduate degree in Spanish, “debt free, because of REACH and other forms of aid.”
“I chose to major in a foreign language because I thoroughly enjoy learning Spanish and want to be able to communicate with more people.”
Kirkland plans to pursue a master’s degree in health sciences and eventually a dental school applicant. As she prepares for a new experience, she advises those following behind her to embrace change.
“Some students are experiencing career anxiety and they should know it’s fine not having all the answers right away. Don’t let the fear of making a mistake inhibit your freedom to choose. Some people might oppose non-linear career paths, but the rollercoasters with the most jerks, loops, and turns are usually the most exciting and memorable ones to ride.”