For Aberdeen High School Class of 2021 graduate Nadia Rollins, the future looks bright after she walked across the stage Monday to receive her high school diploma and onward to pursue a degree in psychology.
Though Rollins, 18, is excited to turn the page and continue her education, she will miss the friends, teachers, courses and activities that peppered her high school life as she prepares to enter Cheyney University in Pennsylvania — the oldest historically Black college in the country.
“I’m really going to miss most teachers I had,” she said. “They have been really great to me, along with my friends; I can’t forget about my friends.”
Cheyney caught her eye, she said, because of how persist they were with her and how much information they were willing to share. She also attained a renewable scholarship, and the college is about an hour up the road from Havre de Grace, where she lives.
“It just seems like it is going to be like home,” she said.
For Rollins’ mother, Simone Knight, the fact that her daughter will be close to home is a comfort. It is even more of a comfort knowing that Rollins has become a determined and strong woman with a world of possibilities available to her, she said.
“I am mostly proud of my daughter because of her strength, her faith, her belief, her enthusiasm,” Knight said. “She is just an encourager ... I would say she doesn’t back down very easily.”
Rollins met many of her friends through the Advancement Via Individual Determination program at the school, which she credits with helping her prepare for college life and gain important organizational skills. And though she is most likely to be known by her peers for her determination and persistence, she is not always hard at work. She volunteers as a liturgical dancer at her church, and fondly remembers bonding with friends at school.
Rollins plans to study psychology and hopes to work with children, a desire cultivated by helping her 11- and 8-year-old siblings through the rigors of virtual learning, and helping younger children learn motor skills at the high school twice a week. She said she wants to give those who might be struggling a helping hand, acknowledging that some come from challenging circumstances.
“Everyone doesn’t come from the happiest of places, but at least if they have a guide or someone who can help them, that’s good,” she said.
After a difficult and uncertain school year, Rollins said the graduation ceremony is long-deserved. Through the difficulties of helping her siblings learn and keeping her own grades up, Rollins said she is most proud of maintaining a 4.0 GPA and staying on the honor roll, even through junior year when COVID-19 cast a long shadow.
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“It has been a long four years, and just walking across the stage means so much to me because over the four years there has been a lot of things,” she said.