Photography by Martin Harris, BritSnap
Kristina Armstrong 2
Claim to Fame
This Prattville High School senior has some mixed feelings about her newest title: valedictorian. “I had never really thought about the whole class rank thing,” she said. “While it certainly does not bother me that my dedication to academics is being recognized, I don’t particularly enjoy this ‘status.’ In the past I just sought to do my best, and that is what I am continuing to try to do.”
It’s obvious that for Kristina, academic achievement is not the goal, but a means to a greater end. When asked what has driven her to excel in school, she quoted Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon with which you can change the world.” “I want to maximize my learning experiences because I want to be able to use my honed skills and improve my abilities to serve and give back to my community,” she said.
She’s already been accepted at the University of Alabama, but she’s considering applying to Auburn University and Georgia Tech as well. Wherever she ends up, she plans to double major in Accounting and Economics and double minor in Finance and French with hopes of landing a job at one of the big four accounting firms after graduation. “I started talking to some of my extended family about their careers in business, and I shadowed an accountant last year,” she said.
On the Move
Born on Travis Air Force Base in Vacaville, Calif., Kristina has moved around a lot, thanks to her dad’s career in the Air Force. A positive attitude has helped her adapt to everywhere she’s been. “Moving around so much has immeasurably benefitted me and taught me a lot. Each move is different, as each new location offers different opportunities,” she said. “I learned a lot in each place I lived. The biggest thing is to bloom where you are planted and focus on the positives of wherever you are.”
Point of Pride
Kristina’s even helping other students who find themselves in the same position. “I am most proud of founding the Student Ambassador Program at my high school with a friend of mine. As a new student to PHS arriving from Ft. Collins, Colorado, at the beginning of my tenth-grade year, I saw the potential benefits of a program that would ease the transition of new students by providing a friendly face to give new students a tour of the school, basic info about the academics, clubs, athletics and answers to questions. I know from the appreciative comments from new students, parents and school staff that the program has made a small but meaningful difference.”
Time for Fun?
“I absolutely love culinary cooking. My grandpa was an executive chef of a large hotel, and while we lived in Colorado he gave me my own private cooking lessons. He definitely instilled in me a passion for cooking. I enjoy bike riding and jogging. I also love spending time with my friends and family.”
PG (Parental Guidance) Rating
“My parents laid a solid foundation of a good work ethic when I was little, but after about sixth grade, they still supported me but really started taking a laissez-faire approach to my grades because they knew by that point I was self-driven. I also believe my parents emphasizing how they were proud of my hard work even more so than my accomplishments has emphasized the importance of integrity, not only in an academic setting, but in all aspects of life.”
Kristina’s parents Dennis and Rose believe in leading by example, and Dennis and Kristina’s older sister Angela (a National Merit Scholar) have influenced Kristina with their dedication. “Kristina's father as a 27-year officer in the Air Force was a role model in work ethics, leadership and excellence. He’s shared his experiences of travel to 62 countries,” Rose said. “And her older sister Angela was and still is probably more influential on Kristina's motivation than anyone else. Kristina saw Angela's dedication to studying and the sacrifice of being so focused.”
“Kristina has seen me study and focus on both work and my masters and PhD classes. That probably served as an example for her,” Dennis said.
The couple offered this wisdom to other parents: “Spend time with them, let them know they are important and help them see the bigger picture in life,” Dennis said. “We try to emphasize a well rounded approach to life rather than just academics.”
“Encouraging her to implement her ideas despite adversity has resulted in ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking,” Rose added. “Put limits on how many hours a hard charger can ‘work’ when she/he gets too fatigued to prevent burnout. Most importantly: Don't be a peer, be a parent! Guide and mentor ideas. We stress that character is more important than achievement.”