‘Always Do Your Best’
Even During the Worst of Times

Cross Keys Salutatorian Alicia McGlory Reaches Academic Heights in the Face of Adversity

Cross Keys High School salutatorian Alicia McGlory has always been ambitious and an overachiever when it comes to her school work. She rarely shies away from a challenge.

So, when her mother became ill and was diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome in 2019, Alicia didn’t shy away from assisting with her care. Sjögren’s syndrome is a systemic autoimmune disease that affects the entire body. Along with symptoms of extensive dryness, other serious complications include profound fatigue, chronic pain, major organ involvement, neuropathies, and lymphomas.

While her mother was in the hospital, Alicia would visit her after school. When DeKalb County School District (DCSD) transitioned to virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Alicia took on more responsibility for her mother’s care–watching her, cooking, cleaning, and other household chores.

Despite the additional responsibilities on her plate, Alicia stayed on top of her school work and maintained her 4.2-grade point average (GPA). This resulted in her having the second-highest GPA and being named the salutatorian of Cross Keys’ 2022 graduating class.

“It was kind of bittersweet because I was going for valedictorian,” Alicia said about her reaction to being named salutatorian. “But I was happy at the same time because all of my hard work was acknowledged.”

While in virtual learning, Alicia said it was easier to help care for her mother. However, when she returned to face-to-face learning, it became challenging. She wasn’t around for the majority of the day, and believed returning to the building could put her at greater risk of catching COVID.

“It was like stay at home and watch her and take care of her or go to school and be at risk. But luckily, I haven’t got COVID yet. So, that’s a good thing,” Alicia said.

Her mother, Chanda Davis, said Alicia is the light of her world.

“She has helped me tremendously. She is so outstanding,” Davis said. “It’s a blessing to be Alicia’s mom. She is a joy and a joyful person. She’s very outspoken, a wonderful person, cheerful, and courteous. It’s magnificent to have Alicia as a daughter, and I am so proud and beyond amazed by Alicia’s accomplishments.”

Davis added that Alicia has a village of aunts, cousins, and other relatives who helped guide Alicia through her upbringing and played a role in her academic success.

“It wasn’t just me,” Davis said. “I would love to take all the credit as the mom, but she has a village.”

Although her health is not at 100 percent, Alicia said her mom is doing better. She said she makes sure to wear her mask at school and home and do other preventative measures to keep her and her mother safe as she deals with her illness during the pandemic.

“I do any preventative measures that I can take to prevent her from getting COVID because COVID affects the respiratory system, and [Sjögren’s syndrome] is a respiratory disease.”

While focusing on her school work and caring for her mother, Alicia is also active in school extracurricular activities. She is president of HOSA, a global student-led organization for future health professionals and a member of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Beta Club, National Honor Society, and Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society.

Alicia is heading to Emory University in the Fall after receiving two academic scholarships worth more than $500,000. She is currently undecided on what she will major in as she considers biology, history, African American studies, and French.

Although Dartmouth College was her first choice, she is still excited about attending Emory because she will be close to her mother.

“I can still visit her, which is good because I won’t be far,” she said.

When asked what advice she would give to other students facing adversity, she said to “keep up on your studies and always do your best.”