Melissa Bryant was in middle school when she found out her mother had been valedictorian of her high school class.
At that point, she set a goal of making high school valedictorian status a family tradition.
The Edinburgh Community High School senior achieved that goal this spring, winning the honor with a 4.15 GPA.
“My mom and I like to joke that we’re putting a lot of pressure on the next generation of our family,” Bryant said.
Getting good grades usually came easy to Bryant, since she has always liked school. But keeping that No. 1 spot was still stressful, she said.
While some high school seniors take it easy their final year, Bryant’s academic mission forced her to be even more focused on her grades.
“It’s stressful to be at the top of the class because you feel that you have to stay there,” she said. “You can’t let it go.
“Your senior year is supposed to be about having fun, and I didn’t get to have have as much fun as others did.”
Whenever her stress levels were high, she could count on emotional support from her family and prayer.
“My mom, especially, has been a huge support to me,” Bryant said. “She’s always there to comfort me and tell me, ‘It’s OK,’ even when I screwed up a bit. I’ve also spent a lot of time in church growing up, and I always find a lot of comfort in God.”
Aside from her studies, she found time to be a runner on her school’s varsity track team and served as equipment manager for the football team. Neither got in the way of her schoolwork. With the equipment manager job, she could help the football team by getting their equipment out and still have plenty of time to do her homework after practice started.
Becoming valedictorian helped build Bryant’s confidence for the future and whatever comes next.
“This is a goal I’ve been pursuing for a long time,” she said.
“It means a lot to me that I could accomplish it. It makes me look at the future and say ‘Yeah, I can do anything.’”
Bryant will attend Franklin College this fall, where she will major in psychology. She describes herself as a mediator and peacekeeper, and her goal is to work in some form of counseling.
Name: Melissa Bryant
Parents: Phil and Jean Bryant
College: Franklin College
Dream career: Counseling