School: Columbia High
Graduation date: May 30
You have a long list of honors for academic achievement, and you are Columbia High’s valedictorian. What are you most proud of?
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Hallingquest: I am most proud of being named a Gates Millennium Scholar, not only for the opportunities it will afford me, but also because those were the best essays I have ever written in my life.
You’re heading to Duke to study biology. What other universities did you consider?
Hallingquest: To be honest, it was either Duke or bust. In 2009, I was able to stay on campus as a part of the Duke TIP Summer Studies program. While there, I fell in love with the aura of the campus as a whole, as well as the distance from home. Since then, Duke has been the only option. I’m so glad I was accepted.
What’s the lowest grade you’ve ever gotten, K-12?
Hallingquest: The lowest grade on an assignment I’ve gotten was a (-2) in Mr. Reed’s seventh-grade math class at Langford Middle in Augusta. In middle school, I had a serious lack of confidence, so Mr. Reed was determined to help me build some. He started at 100 and subtracted two points throughout the quarter every time I doubted myself. EPIC FAIL!! However, it was an important learning moment for me.
We understand you might have possible political aspirations. Tell us about that.
Hallingquest: YES! I’ve always been a political junkie, and the recent worsening gridlock scares me as politicians continue to forsake the most important tenant of democracy: compromise. Even as I attend Duke, I plan to be politically active through organizations to impact my community. Moreover, I hope to serve the state of North Carolina as both governor and United States senator. I may even have to get my mail forwarded to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW for eight years
What’s your favorite book?
Hallingquest: My favorite book has to be “The Giver” by Lois Lowry. Even after five years, I still have vivid memories of the book’s complex details. I still remember the tears I cried when I found out the true meaning of being “released.”
When you’re not studying, what do you like to do?
Hallingquest: When I am not studying, I am either at church or traveling. Every Sunday morning and Wednesday afternoon, I can be found at 1511 Lafayette Avenue in Cayce for worship services. Additionally, I love being out and about, whether it is a quick trip to the mall, a “daycation” to Charleston or a few days in Atlanta.
What song sums up your high school years?
Hallingquest: The song that best sums up my high school experience is “Alright” by Doobie Powell. It is my constant reminder that no matter what happens, I must still rejoice because everything will be alright.
What’s the biggest life lesson you learned from a teacher?
Hallingquest: My eighth-grade South Carolina history teacher, Ms. Tessie Jo Morris, taught me something I will always remember: “Love God, Love Self, Love People! For this will never fail you!”