MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — As students in Central Georgia are preparing to walk across the stage and into the next chapter of their lives, we want to shine a spotlight on some of them who've overcome obstacles to get where they are.
Baldwin County High School senior Morgan Pounds is 18 and she says she's a high achiever. She's in six school clubs and dual-enrolled at GMC, taking early college classes. She says her family strongly values education.
"They have zero-tolerance for not trying. If you try hard enough, you'll get the results you want,” she said.
Pounds was named drum major this year and her family is her biggest cheerleader.
"They will always cheer me on. I can hear them from behind me in the stands. Just being able to have their support made me want to keep doing this thing, just to feel their encouragement,” she explained.
But one of her biggest supporters -- her dad -- isn't here anymore.
"He died in a motorcycle accident on May 14, 2020. He didn't have an illness that we were anticipating his death for. It just happened suddenly. He was there and then he wasn't,” she said.
As you can imagine, Morgan and her family were overcome with grief, but the loss of her dad helped her find focus while healing.
"During the summer, I used to kind of slack off in my college classes,” she said. “That summer, since it was right after his passing, my grades got immediately better because I used that as motivation to just keep on going... just keep on doing what I need to do."
The concentration helped her secure a $29,000 scholarship to Washington College in Maryland, where she plans to major in political science.
"I know he would feel very proud of me. I know he would be very happy with the path that I'm going,” she said.
Pounds says she wants to fight climate change to make the world a better place. And even though he's gone, her dad is still supporting her dreams.
"He's like the little angel on my shoulder telling me to do this, do that, always keep your head up -- things like that, so I always imagine him whispering in my ear to just keep doing good," said Pounds.
She's the only one from her friend group going to school out-of-state.