There is nothing quite like seeing a young person in your community grow and thrive, especially if you’ve had a hand in her success.
Tionna Thornton graduated from Greene County High School in 2016 and was one of the first two recipients of the Lawton Family Scholarship. Thornton excelled in her four years in college through her own hard work and attitude of success, graduating from Augusta University (AU) in December 2019 with her bachelor of science degree in psychology. Those in Greene County who have been a teacher, coach, mentor, or have otherwise been part of her life will not be surprised to read of her recent accomplishments.
Thornton is currently attending graduate school at Augusta University and continues to work hard not only in her studies but also in her community. She tackled a full class load of four classes and also worked two jobs in the fall semester, against the advice of her professors (and in her own words, “You know how determined and a bit strong-willed I am!”). Even with a hectic work schedule during the day and with classes each evening, she maintained a 4.0 GPA last fall. As a result of this dedicated work, she earned membership to Phi Kappa Phi, the oldest, largest and most selective honor society for all academic disciplines. She was also invited to serve as a student representative on the Graduate School Council.
Two research projects required of Thornton were of particular importance to her not only for their content but because they also earned her recognition by her professors. One project was a prospectus titled, “The Lived Experiences of Black Mothers who Lost their Children to Police Brutality.” Her professor has agreed to work with her on conducting the project. Another was a research paper on how to conduct successful group therapy for at-risk African-American boys, and her professor has talked with her about publishing her work. Thornton expressed her feelings about these accomplishments, saying, “I am so excited because I feel like I am actually making a difference in my field.”
She started counseling in a school setting through one of her classes this semester and says she is “nervous but super excited.”
One of Thornton’s two jobs was in the office of Hardie Davis Jr., mayor of Augusta. She worked with outreach programs such as My Brother’s Keeper, a mentoring alliance started by President Obama. She says that working for the mayor “has given me great insight” and she has been able to create programs centered on mental health. One such program is called Cuts and Conversations. It is a virtual program for men and boys of color during which they can have important conversations about the current issues they face, and they can do so in their common “sacred place,” the barbershop.
She has fine-tuned her work and has partnered with the American Heart Association for the first launch of the program in February. She says she is still very interested in school counseling but acknowledges that this experience has opened her eyes to the possibility of a career in creating programs for mental health organizations one day.
Thornton’s work in her classes reflects her passion for helping her community grow and thrive. She is tireless in finding ways to help those in need and stays focused on what is important. She is a contributor wherever she is, both in a work setting, on campus, and as a part of the greater public. She has a strong faith and support system in her own family. She also continues to recognize the Lawton family for their ongoing support and communication. In her words to them, she said, “The seeds that you sowed not only helped me but will help others. I thank God for such amazing people!”
Thorton is one of Greene County’s best and brightest … she will be amazing to watch as she continues to grow, expand her reach, and make her way in the world.