05/02/10 — C.B. Aycock graduate is top of Wolfpack

View Archive

C.B. Aycock graduate is top of Wolfpack

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 2, 2010 1:50 AM

Full Size

Deonna Taylor

This year's valedictorian at N.C. State University has a Wayne County address -- and she is preparing for a career in a field she has been interested in since undergoing open heart surgery at age 2.

Deonna Taylor, a graduate of Charles B. Aycock High School will receive her Bachelor of Science degree in biology life sciences, with a minor in psychology, on May 15.

She was notified a couple weeks ago via e-mail that she is No. 1 in her graduating class of 6,554 students.

"You can always look up your GPA (grade-point average)," she said. "I knew that my GPA was over 4.0, but they stop counting it after 4.0."

The distinction means a lot to the Pikeville resident, who graduated from high school in 2006.

"I have always been motivated. School has always been a big thing for me," she said.

She is not the only member of her family currently pursuing a college education. Sister Devyn is attending Wayne Community College and mom, Dee, recently transferred to Mount Olive College to complete her degree.

Mrs. Taylor said she was very proud of her middle child -- older brother Scott is in the Air Force, stationed in Maryland. Dad Donald Taylor, Sr. is retired from the Air Force.

"It's so exciting about the whole thing," Mrs. Taylor said. "She had open heart surgery when she was 2 and it's just amazimg that she has gone this far."

That early medical experience has helped shape the Class of 2010 graduate's career plans, she said.

"I've grown up completing regular visits to the doctors," Deonna said. "I grew to respect and admire them, so I want to help people like they helped me."

She is undecided about which aspect of the medical profession she will pursue, but mentioned an interest in anesthesiology.

For the immediate future, though, she is focusing on wedding plans. She and fiance, Spencer Carlson, whom she met in high school, will be married in September and then will move to Georgia, where he is stationed with the Air Force. Deonna said she intends to continue her education, but might take a break until the couple get settled.

It's been a whirlwind few years, she admits, and it will be nice to be living in the same place.

"He's been in Georgia the last year and just got back from deployment in Decem-ber, so it's been a long-distance relationship," Deonna said.

She has also juggled a part-time job at the college bookstore, where she might continue working during the summer months to bank some money for the wedding -- and for college loans.

As for the upcoming graduating ceremony, with such a large class, Ms. Taylor said she is uncertain how her valedictorian status will be acknowledged.

"I have gone and taken pictures, and I will be in the program with my name and stuff," she said. "I know that we're recognized by the chancellor and everything, but I don't know about anything else."

Second only to obtaining the degree she has focused on for these past four years, Ms. Taylor said it's a "big deal" to rank first academically among her classmates.

"Working so hard and getting this accomplishment really feels like I have done something," she said. "My mom and my dad have been so good about pushing me to go for it and do it. It feels good to make them proud, too."