It's the time of year when new high school grads start making their final decisions about that next big step. Whether that means joining the armed forces, pursuing a higher education or jumping right into the workforce, it's one of the most important choices a person can make.
While there are many paths to success, this year's top two students from Palmetto Christian Academy (PCA) both agree that the key may be taking advantage of any and all challenging opportunities that come your way.
Jackson Pearce, son of Stuart and Beverly Pearce, earned the honor of being PCA's valedictorian for the class of 2014.
Pearce has committed to Furman University, citing its small-school atmosphere and liberal arts education as key factors in his decision. “The school really gave off a true passion for learning and a focus on their undergraduates and giving them the best opportunities they can provide,” said Pearce. While at PCA, Pearce was captain of the varsity swim team, a representative in student government, delegate at Palmetto Boys' State and member of the National Honors Society, Mu Alpha Theta and Quiz Bowl team. He also took time to pursue his inner thespian as a member of the Palmetto Players and even performed alongside the Footlight Players.
“I was one of those kids who saw opportunities and seized them up and took whatever came my way,” said Pearce.
Pearce plans to major in neuroscience while at Furman and plans to attend medical school following college. “I've always wanted to go into medicine, but the big draw for neuroscience is that it takes biology, which is something I enjoy studying, and psychology and combines the two together,” said Pearce. “It really captivated my interest, and while it may be a little more difficult, I'm going to have some incredible opportunities as I pursue medicine.”
Salutatorian Katie Quinn will be attending Clemson University in the fall with plans to major in food science and human nutrition with a minor in Spanish. Quinn hopes to one day become a nurse or dietician and possibly work with malnourished children in Hispanic countries. When it came to selecting a school, Quinn was drawn to the university's challenging and rigorous academic and research opportunities as well as its welcoming atmosphere. “I was also attracted to the sense of community I felt the first time I stepped on campus, so that I could make Clemson my home away from home,” said Quinn.
During her time at PCA, Quinn served as president of both the National Honor Society and the Spanish Club while also serving as captain of the Varsity tennis and soccer teams. She also volunteered at East Cooper Medical Center and serves at St. Peter's Anglican Church.
When asked what advice she has for those entering or still in high school, Quinn said, “Don't give up. Take the most challenging classes you can and be determined to do well.” She credits her parents, Ward and Leslie Quinn, her AP classes and her teachers with equipping her with the tools she needs to tackle any problem while also considering how the outcome may affect others.