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Destiny fulfilled:
Top Senior runner-up beat the odds
Published Monday, May 14, 2012
by Sommer Brokaw

Destiny Planter

Destiny Planter will not let statistics define her destiny.

“As the invention of two young parents, my resources have always been limited,” Planter wrote in her Top Senior essay. “The absence of money and dependence on government-based aid pre-destined my future as negative in terms of schooling and success. With exposure to abuse initiated by my father (on my mom), my chances at accomplishment were cut in half.”

Through school, Planter found an escape from financial stress and problems at home. “We had some economic obstacles, and I knew that the only way I could make my finances better for the future was I had to stay focused on school because education is the only way,” she said.

Planter’s dedication led to a 4.7 grade point average and Top Senior runner-up.

“Being … runner-up definitely has been an honor,” she said. “For the things thing that I do, I don’t look for a lot of recognition in return. I just need to do it because it’s right.”

In February, Planter was one of 1,000 students to earn the Gates Millennium Scholarship out of 24,000 applicants. The scholarship, which goes to students who have exhibited leadership, will pay for her education at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she plans to pursue her goal of becoming a public health psychologist.

Planter will be the first in her immediate family to go straight to college from high school. Her mother, Cathy Hill, is going to the University of Phoenix for a bachelor’s degree in business. Hill said her daughter has always been a “self-starter” with a love for learning. 

“I think it all stems from her being as young as she was, at the age of 3 years old, she actually started reading,” Hill said. “She would prefer pop-up books over baby dolls and her little high heels shoes. Once she started reading she just continued to go.”

Hill is very proud of her Planter’s Top Senior honor.

“I expect greatness from Destiny, but I never knew that it would go this far so I was really excited,” she said.  “Even today when I talked to her about it she’s really modest. I’m not as modest because I get on the phone and brag to everybody about it.”

She said that she raised her in a democracy style environment where even if she didn’t initially agree with her if she could make a valid argument then she could convince her. “She was always a good critical thinker even at a young age,” she said.

Hill added: “I just know that even with Destiny being raised just by me and her being in a single parent environment statistically or whatever I think we beat the odds.”

In addition to academic success, Planter has been involved in several extracurricular activities such as Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, Senior Class Council and volleyball.

“I definitely would say that I beat the odds by kind of establishing myself early on in my academic career, setting myself apart from many other students by being active not only in school, but in my community,” she said.  “It took a lot of late nights, but I just basically stayed focused and kept education as my number one goal.”

Planter entered JROTC as a sophomore and is now a battalion commander.

“I was attracted to the uniform, and I also wanted to get involved and that is what kind of drew me in,” she said.

Retired Colonel Kenneth Love, West Charlotte’s JROTC leader, said that if Planter would go into the military after high school, he believes that she would go all the way to general officer ranks because of her leadership skills.

“Instead of choosing to enlist directly in the military to support my family, I have chosen to attend a prestigious college to increase my probability of success,” she wrote in her Top Senior essay.


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