Shaunda Shaw & Shineil Taylor
Brianna Ebony Simpson
Twenty-two years ago, a baby girl was born in a refugee camp in Senegal, where her family lived after war broke out between Senegal and the family’s native country of Mauritania. Kadiata Sy spent the first 11 years of her life in that camp.
Finally, her family was allowed to leave and come to the United States, where they settled in Atlanta. But she knew no English and had received no formal education. In her middle school, Sy was placed in special classes to learn English. Luckily, she loved her teachers and soon began to show what she could do. She quickly advanced from reading nursery rhymes to Harry Potter and, by high school, she was placed in Advanced Placement courses, including AP English.
When it came time for college, a family member recommended Georgia Perimeter. She decided to give GPC a try. Sy came to Georgia Perimeter College, thinking she would take a few courses and then transfer. Instead, she has completed two associate degrees: one in political science and one in philosophy. “Once I was on campus, I saw this was a great place, and decided to stay,” Sy said.
Sy was in GPC’s Honors program and won the 2012 Clarkston Campus President’s Award, plus campus excellence awards in General Humanities and Global Studies. She served as the president of the Clarkston Student Government Association and founded the campus Philosophy Club, all while maintaining 3.78 GPA. She also has been active in community service, working with Keep DeKalb Beautiful, Global Village School for Refugee Girls, Fight Against Famine-Somalia and the International Rescue Committee.
There’s more. Sy is one of two GPC students this year to receive the prestigious national Jack Kent Cooke scholarship, which provides up to $90,000 – that’s up to $30,000 annually for three years – to continue her education. Sy’s goal is to become a human rights attorney. With the help of the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship, she can fulfill her dream to complete dual bachelor’s degrees from Emory University in political science and Middle Eastern studies on her path to that goal.