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18-year-old girl wins best graduating student award in high school, bags $4.5m scholarship to study in 113 US universities

An exceptional 18-year-old girl from the Georgia United States, Aylah Birks has outshined her colleagues to emerge as the best graduating student and valedictorian at the Twiggs County High School in Georgia.

Aylah Bricks who is a native of Twiggs also won an outstanding $4.5million scholarship award cumulatively from 113 universities across the United States.

The young scholar who graduated in 2021 also set a record for her high school after emerging the first-ever female student and third student to win a Gates Scholarship. The Gates Scholarship is a highly competitive award granted to exceptional students across the United States.

The Scholarship which covers a student’s full cost of attending school including tuition, fees, room, board, books, transportation, and other personal expenses, requires the student to be among the top 10 per cent of their graduating class, and participate in extracurricular and community service activities, among other factors.

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Aylah Bricks competed with 34,000 students for the award and emerged as one of the 300 winners in the United States.

Aylah’s exceptional academic performance started from a young age as she clinched several valedictorian awards right from her 1st grade and down to her 12th grade. Celebrating her landmark achievement on LinkedIn, she explained that she received awards in her 1st, 8th and 12th grade.

“A 3 TIME VALEDICTORIAN (1st Grade; 8th Grade; 12th Grade) AT TWIGGS COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL,” she said.

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Aylah Brick also noted that her achievement not only saw her win a $4.5m scholarship award to 113 universities but also made her the first-ever person in her family to attend university.

“A FIRST GENERATION COLLEGE STUDENT. A RECIPIENT OF OVER 4.5 MILLION IN OFFERS. A 2021 GATES SCHOLAR WITH 113 COLLEGE ACCEPTANCES,” she said.

Aylah Brick praised her mother for being a strong force behind her success. She described her mother as the main driving force behind all her accomplishments.

“I think the main driving force behind these accomplishments has to be my mother. Just seeing her tireless effort of always taking the time out to read me a story, or teach me something new as a child,” she told 11Alive.

She narrated that her days in high school were tough as she was bullied severally by other students but did not let that stop her from achieving her goals. “I was often bullied and I didn’t understand why, but when you’re bullied…people see something in you that they don’t see in themselves,” she said.

Faced with the choice of choosing one of the 113 universities that offered her admission and scholarships, the young scholar narrowed her choice down to Clemson and Mercer University with a dream of majoring in behavioural neuroscience and legal studies with minors in communications and public health.

She later enrolled at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia and is set to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in 2025.

“My story is not ending in Twiggs County, but it’s only just beginning. I think the most rewarding part is that I’ve made my family proud and I’ve made myself proud,” she said.

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