Student Profile: Toria Hawkins
Toria Hawkins is your average high school freshman enjoying a not-so-average high school experience. Hawkins lives in Largo and attended Benjamin Foulois Creative and Performing Arts Academy and Phyllis E. Williams Elementary School. She’s a member of the student government at the Academy of Health Sciences.
As part of the inaugural class of students at the Academy of Health Sciences at Prince George’s Community College, Hawkins and approximately 100 other ninth-graders are working simultaneously on requirements for their high school diplomas and associate degree. For Hawkins, a 15-year-old aspiring psychiatrist, it is the opportunity to start building a career path. Her grandmother told her about the new school last year.
“I knew the academy would be a good start for psychology classes,” she said. “We’re being challenged more than the normal classroom. We still get to have the social aspect of high school, but with the academics, we’re getting so much of an advantage.”
Her classes include a mix of science classes that explore psychology, biology, chemistry and ecology concepts; advanced mathematics; honors-level English; history and Chinese. Though she felt intimidated on the first day of classes, Hawkins said she is now more at ease.
“Now I feel like this is my school as well as the college students’,” she said. “We’re all here for education. It fits now.”
As she looks towards the future, Hawkins points to Georgetown University and Howard University as her top two choices for college. For now, she is focused on her studies, extracurricular pursuits – student government is a way to “help out my community,” she says – and getting everything she can out of this unique high school experience.
“The teachers at our school want us to succeed,” she said. “Going into high school, you want the normality of the high school experience. I know this looks frightening and you may think there are going to be drawbacks. But you have to take that risk. This is like the normal high school, but we’re taking it a step further.”