Amanda Surman knows the value of hard work. She's seen the fruits of it pay off in her own life, especially when it comes to education.
And her greatest inspiration in that department was her mom.
"I got my desire to learn from my mother. She was in graduate school most of my childhood and that really inspired me. I've always loved school and would be a professional student if I could," she said.
With her love of learning, it was only natural that Surman would explore as many options as possible when it came to finding the right college. The Atlanta native checked out universities as far away as New York and Hawaii. But, it turns out, her mother would guide her course — again.
"I've always had a desire to travel, even if it was a quick weekend trip to the mountains or down to the beach. I wanted to explore my options outside of Atlanta for college," she said.
"While I spent my time looking at schools anywhere from Hawaii to New York, my mom sent my application to College of Coastal Georgia without informing me. She wanted me to stay in state and use the Zell Miller scholarship, and knowing what's best, she ended up finding the perfect fit for me."
Of course, Surman was well prepared going in. During high school, she took part in dual enrollment, now called Move On When Ready, which allowed her to rack up two years of college credits before even setting foot on a campus.
It helped prepare her for the future challenges she would face. Of course, one of the things she had to master above all else — time management. Not only was Surman a full-time student, she was also worked three jobs while attending school.
"I was fortunate to have my family as a strong support system while in college. However, I was still expected to work throughout school. I worked and tutored for CCGA while balancing school, so I stayed very busy, but I liked it that way," she said.
"I currently work for Sea Island, babysit and give paddleboard tours on the side."
All of that effort and balance paid off when Surman graduated with a bachelor's degree in biology in May. But true to form, she wasn't content to just sit on her laurels. She began applying to prestigious graduate schools while wrapping up her studies at CCGA.
"When I started looking into graduate schools, I didn't really know what I was getting into. I had always planned on going to medical school so that was the process I understood," she said.
"Since I was applying during my senior year at Coastal, I didn't have much time to put towards a lot of applications, so I only applied to two dream schools. Those schools were Columbia University and Duke University."
During spring break Surman got a phone call with an out-of-state area code. But she, like many others would, assumed it would be a sales call.
"I answered with a very unenthusiastic tone to ask to be taken off of the call list," she said. "Luckily, before I could give my request, the woman on the phone introduces herself as the 'program director of the IHN at Columbia University.' I was so ecstatic and immediately called my mom."
Now, Surman is focused squarely on the future. She plans to go to Columbia to study biochemistry and nutrition more in depth. Her goal, she says, is to be able to help people around the world.
"Ultimately, I'd love to work with people in developing countries to educate and provide resources to improve their current nutritional status," she said.
Coastal People appears Mondays. Contact Lindsey Adkison at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 265-8320, ext. 346 to suggest a person for a column.