Class of 2020 graduate Lorin Brown is ready for the next chapter of her life.
Well, almost. She wants to take the summer off to rest, and then she’ll be ready to conquer the world.
Brown graduated from Petal High School Monday night in an unconventional ceremony that was, perhaps, a fitting end to a strange senior year. The latter half of her senior year was greatly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but she rose above the challenge and walked away from her high school years with a barrel full of academic and leadership achievements.
Brown was senior class president for student council, president of the local chapter of the National Technical Honor Society, president of the Spanish Club and a member of the Spanish Honor Society and the National Honor Society. She was also involved with the Petal High School Ambassadors, which is a community service club, and “a bunch of other organizations,” she said.
Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, Brown was an active member of the Petal School District’s Decision-Making Board, a collaborative effort between students and district leaders “to make change in the district,” she added.
Such a load of extracurricular activities would keep any student busy, but somehow, Brown managed to excel in all of those roles while also scoring high marks academically. She recently earned the Seal of Biliteracy in Spanish, which is awarded after taking a number of high-level exams to test one’s proficiency in the language.
“I’m not fluent in Spanish, but I’m biliterate, which means I can read and write Spanish,” she said. “I’m still working on being fluent.”
Brown also worked through the difficulties of an education interrupted by coronavirus, which caused Mississippi schools to physically close for the school year in mid-March. Brown and her fellow students transitioned to online learning for the remaining two months of the year.
“The entire pandemic has just been really shocking,” she said. “I never expected it, and it’s been crazy for all of us. We were expecting the normal, but we had to push through things. As I watched all this happening in the world, it made me more motivated to finish my degree strong.”
She said she missed seeing her classmates and the Petal High faculty and staff during the past two months.
“We left for spring break and expected to come back and graduate,” she said. “Thankfully, we had Zoom and other apps, and we were able to connect that way ... but it was difficult. There’s a lot more distractions at home, and, of course, you have to deal with procrastination.”
In the fall, Brown will attend Millsaps College, where she will major in neuroscience and cognitive studies with minors in psychology and Spanish. Ultimately, she wants to become a clinical neuropsychologist and work with patients with various neurological disorders.
“This really all came from my brother, Blake, who has autism,” she said. “Ever since he was born, you could kind of see signs of it, and it’s always made me wonder more ... like, why is he not answering questions this way, why is he reading this book and not being able to tell me all the information. I just always wondered basically why, and I became even more curious about it over time, and it inspired me to study the brain and learn more about his disorder.”
Brown also wants to study dementia, a disorder that has affected several of her relatives.
“Growing up and being a witness to those situations with dementia ... I’ve always wanted to know more,” she said. “I want to be able to help others, and I want to bring more awareness to neurological disorders. So many people have them, and they haven’t even been diagnosed yet. It’s always been a major passion for me.”
Once she completes her education, including a doctoral degree, Brown wants to work around the world researching these disorders.
“I want to spread my little love and care around the world if possible ... not only in my community, but everywhere else,” she said.
Brown said she’s looking forward to the future, even though things seem tumultuous at the moment.
“I think the virus will ultimately bring the world closer together, and that’s a good thing,” she said. “I’m looking forward to my next steps ... but I’m also looking forward to taking a few weeks off in the summer and resting.”