We Are APS: Imahni Lawton

Despite the magnitude of her personal circumstances, Grady High School senior Imahni Lawton, 18, has persisted and continues to rise above her challenges.

On May 23, she will graduate from Grady with a 3.65 GPA, and plans to attend Kennesaw State University, where she will major in political science with a concentration in pre-law. Her goal is to become an attorney or victim advocate.

“Before, I felt like I was fighting to stay alive, but now I feel like I’m fighting to be successful and continue to overcome and make the most of the cards I was dealt,” she said. “I realize I want to fight for other people. There are so many people who are silently struggling.”

Life has not been easy for Grady High School senior Imahni Lawton. Growing up in an unstable and tumultuous household, Imahni experienced the unimaginable.

“I had been an alcoholic since I was 11 years old, and that continued until I was 16 in September of 2017,” said Imahni, who began attending Grady during her junior year when she moved in with her father. “I’ve been sober for two years now, and it’s been pretty difficult quitting cold turkey. I was using alcohol to cope. Now, I have to face my problems head-on. That’s been pretty tough.”

Thanks to the help of a therapist, Imahni continues working through her painful past. She specifically credits mental health treatment for giving her the strength to seek sobriety.

“Growing up in an African-American household, people really don’t want to talk about mental illness or seek therapy and allow themselves to become vulnerable,” she said. “But, I wanted to better myself because I was preparing for college. I wanted to make sure that I was grounded and knew who I was so I can stay sober and continue to grow as a person. I figured therapy would help me deal with everything.”

A poised and confident young woman, Imahni is also quick to acknowledge the profound role her teachers at Grady have played in her academic journey. Many of them worked with her to close the gaps.

“If it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t have made it through my junior year, which was the hardest year of my life,” she said. “I had so many factors contributing to my hardships.”

Now that her home life is more stable, Imahni looks forward to a brighter future.

“Having this second chance makes me value life and want more for myself,” she said. “There are so many people rooting for me, and if they haven’t given up on me, why should I give up on myself?”

College/UniversityKennesaw State University
Intended MajorPolitical Science with Pre-Law Concentration
Career GoalAttorney or Victim Advocate
Awards/RecognitionGeorgia State Perimeter College Dual Enrollment

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 www.atlantapublicschools.us/gradnation.

We Are APS highlights APS visionaries (parents, students, teachers, principals, support staff, community members, partners, etc.), who exemplify our vision of a high-performing school district where students love to learn, educators inspire, families engage, and the community trusts the system. To recommend an APS visionary for a We Are APS feature, contact your communications liaison or email apscommunicationsoffice@gmail.com.

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