MACON, Ga. — As part of our 'Great Grads' series, we're highlighting some stellar students in the Central Georgia community.
Rutland High School senior Alyssa Gammie's motivations to be successful came from dealing with a challenge starting at 5-years-old.
"It's called retina pigmentosa, and it actually has no cure right now. It's like my eyes closed -- like the vision is lost from the outside to the center, so eventually, I'll only have tunnel vision," Gammie said.
Simple tasks like walking around, seeing at night or reading a book were hard, and it wasn't easy to accept as a child.
"In middle school that's when I faced a lot of trouble with being different, and like you get beat down when you're not the same as everyone else, and sometimes words can really hurt, but I realized that I'm going to have to live with this for the rest of my life," she said.
With the help of a visual instructor, she took on a new mindset. She started high school determined to accomplish three goals by graduation.
"I wanted to get accepted into Valdosta State University. I wanted to become homecoming queen, and I also wanted to do something that everyone thought I couldn't do because of fear," Gammie said.
She's made it happen, even traveled all the way to Japan through Rutland's foreign studies program.
"My family was very scared. They were like, 'oh my gosh, Alyssa, do you not have fear? Like how are you so brave? Are you not scared?' So, I went and it was really fun," Gammie said.
She says she wouldn't have been able to do it without the support of her friends, Rutland staff members and her family.
"God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers, the most important. He gives everybody challenges in his own ways, and it's up to you to take that and run with it," she said.
Gammie is headed to Valdosta State University to study biology and become a physical therapist.
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