For as long as she can remember, Clarke Peoples has dreamed of marrying her passion for criminal justice with her desire to become an attorney.
Focused and resolute throughout her academic journey, the North Atlanta High School senior and scholar never wavered and endeavored to pursue her dream.
“When I was in eighth grade, I created a vision board for my life in high school, and the vision board is still in my room,” she said. “It’s exactly what I wanted to do – including the SAT score and the grades I wanted. I’ve been focusing on my dreams and my goals and making everything happen for myself to get to the point where I am today.”
Clarke’s hard work and commitment to academic excellence has paid off. In addition to being a recipient of the prestigious Gates Scholarship, Clarke is among the top 10 seniors in her class. She will graduate in the Top 10 percent of her class and with an International Baccalaureate seal on her diploma.
Come fall, Clarke is headed to Columbia University, where she will major in American Studies as a distinguished Kluge Scholar. While there, she plans to become involved with the Center for Justice at Columbia University, which works to reduce the nation’s reliance on incarceration and advancing alternative approaches to safety and justice through education, research and policy. Its mission is to help transform the criminal justice system.
“Criminal justice is something that is especially important to me,” said Clarke, who serves as student body president and founding president of the North Atlanta Student Political Association, a bi-partisan club. “I feel like people marginalize that sector of our society and believe they should be thrown in prison or given the death penalty. I think these people need a voice, and I’m excited to attend Columbia because it aligns with my values and principles.”
Clarke’s passion for criminal justice and the law has guided her path throughout high school.
“I’ve always been big on criminal justice reform,” she said. “I have family members who have been impacted by the criminal justice system and incarceration, which has inspired me. “I want to do something with law and politics because that’s where reform and change starts.”
As a sophomore, for example, Clarke was one of five sophomores selected for the prestigious Governor’s Honors Program. That same year, she attended the Georgia Law Academy program, where she represented North Atlanta as president of the Mock Trial Team and passed a modified bar exam for high school students. The following summer of her junior year, Clarke completed an internship through the Atlanta Bar Association Summer Law Intern Program, interning for six weeks with a private law firm, Barnes and Thornburg, in Atlanta. While there, she won first place in the firm’s Terrence Croft essay competition that involved researching and writing an analysis with opinions and dissenting opinions.
Clarke has also participated in the U.S. Senate Youth Program, where she is one of about 100 students nationwide to receive $10,000 scholarships.
With plans to attend law school following college, Clarke credits her mother for her drive, strength and resilience, as well as careful decision making for her academic and personal success.
“Something that’s been very important to me throughout high school is staying true to myself,” she said. “I always think about my values and whether my actions will cause me regret and take me off course and prevent me from attaining my goals. I can proudly say that I’ve never done anything in high school that I seriously regret or done anything that made people think about me in a different light.”
|Intended Major||American Studies|
|Awards & Recognition||The Gates Scholarship; Kluge Scholar, Columbia University; Georgia|
Law Academy; Governor’s Honors Program; U.S. Senate Youth Program; First-place winner in Atlanta Bar Association’s Summer Law Program Terrance Croft essay competition; President of the Mock Trial team; Student body president; Class President, grades 9-11; founding president of the North Atlanta Student Political Association; member of the varsity golf team; member of the I-Buddies Mentoring Program;
Atlanta Public Schools will host high school commencement exercises Saturday, May 18 – Friday, May 24, 2019. All ceremonies — except Atlanta Classical Academy and Charles R. Drew Charter School — will be held at Georgia Institute of Technology, McCamish Pavilion,965 Fowler Street, NW, Atlanta, GA 30318. For more information on commencement exercises, go to http://www.atlantapublicschools.us/gradnation.
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