FORSYTH, Ga. — Every morning this week, we're sharing why so many Central Georgia students are 'Great Grads.' Our second graduate takes us to Forsyth.
Sunie Hopper is a soon-to-be Mary Persons High School graduate and for the past four years, she has been working in a male-dominated field as a contractor.
For Hopper, the workplace is her classroom. She joined the school's Work Based Learning (WBL) program at the start of her high school career. She's a full-time contractor for Spears & Associates, and right now they're building the new Crawford County High School.
"It's something cool to learn, something you need to have knowledge in whether it's your career path or not," said Hopper.
She says she quickly realized men dominate the field in contracting, but she doesn't let that hold her back.
"But I feel stronger! I feel that I am a woman and can do exactly what a man can do," she said.
Her strength shines through not only at her school and job, but in her personal life too.
"Recently, I've been facing more struggles than before. This year with COVID going around, we lost our house, my mom just passed away," said Hopper.
Throughout her senior year, Hopper watched her mother battle stage three breast cancer. She died in April.
Having to finish school without her mother by her side and moving into a new home, she continued to push harder knowing that's what her mother wanted.
"You have to look at the good in things. Everything happens for a reason, and yeah it could be something so sad, but you have to look at what was happy about it," Hopper said.
Katie Hankison is the Work Based Learning Coordinator for the district.
"Sunie has excelled in so many ways. She's had some adversity this year and she's been able to overcome it, be successful in her classes, and be a super star on her job site," Hankison said.
Hankison says that Hopper stands out to her for many reasons.
"Sunie can stand on her own two feet. She's able to set the boundaries that she needs to personally and professionally. She's just a sharp, sharp kid, and a very quick learner," Hankison said.
The last four years haven't completely been a walk in the park for Hopper, which is why a walk across the stage means so much.
"I worked my butt off for that long and I'm graduating. I did that by myself," she said.
Hopper says the biggest thing she's looking forward to after graduation is finding out where she wants to go next in her career, and learning more about herself.