Emilia Truluck took the Scholastic Aptitude Test just one time, during her junior year of high school.
She scored a 2,240 out of a possible 2,400.
"I figured there was no use in taking it again after that," she said with a laugh.
Indeed, that score earned the South Effingham High School senior the honor as this year’s STAR Student for Effingham County. Truluck will represent Effingham in the regional STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Recognition) competition.
Since the start of her junior year, Truluck has been dual-enrolled at the Advanced Academy of Georgia at the State University of West Georgia. She carries a full college class load — while maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average — and lives on-campus in Carrollton.
"I definitely wouldn’t exchange this experience for anything," Truluck said. "I miss my parents, but I like being able to live by myself and make my own choices."
Truluck said one of her best decisions was to get involved in West Georgia’s Amnesty International chapter, which she now serves as president. She promotes campus awareness of global human rights, participating in events on behalf of Ugandan child soldiers (Invisible Children), international hunger (Oxfam Hunger Banquet), political prisoners and prisoners of conscience (Global Write-A-Thon) and the death penalty (Georgia Summit to Abolish the Death Penalty), to name a few.
"It’s almost like an addiction once you start to do community service," she said. "I get to work with people who tend to be forgotten about in American society."was recently honored as the Georgia Association of Gifted Children’s Distinguished Gifted Teen, based on her "outstanding passion, dedication, creativity and work in helping others."
While that sounds like a mature perspective for a teenager, Truluck was, after all, already a full-time college student at age 16. However, Truluck was even younger when she set her goal of attending the Advanced Academy, after learning about it from 2006 SEHS valedictorian Adam Steiner.
"When I was in fifth grade, I made the decision to attend the Academy," Truluck said. "If I make a decision, I typically tend to follow through."
Truluck selected her high school Spanish instructor, Daphne Sherman, as her STAR Teacher. Sherman taught Truluck the Spanish she now uses while teaching English to Hispanic adult immigrants enrolled at Carrollton’s technical college.
"Emilia’s mind is never idle. Expanding her knowledge is fun for her and she is intrinsically motivated," said Sherman, who retired from SEHS in 2010. "Emilia often worked with other fast learners to complete tasks that were more challenging. In addition, to maintain her extra-curricular activities, Emilia took advantage of any free time in her classes to complete other class assignments and to read a wide variety of literature."
Truluck took her first Spanish course in high school only because a scheduling conflict kept her from taking a course in the language she really wanted to study. However, she came to develop a strong appreciation for her teacher and the language.
"I wanted to take French, so I was definitely a hard case to win over," she said. "I have found Spanish not only useful, but I really enjoy the language now."
At times, it’s easy to forget Truluck is still a high school student; she will graduate from South Effingham this spring. By then, Truluck will have enough course credits to classify as a college junior at West Georgia, but she plans to move on to one of "about 12 schools" to which she has applied.
"I came (to the Advanced Academy of Georgia) for the enrichment, not for the getting ahead," she said. "I have enjoyed a lot of academic freedom and I have taken lot of different classes that wouldn’t necessarily have been available in high school."
Truluck plans to earn a master’s degree in social work and a doctoral degree in law. She wants to combine those two fields by serving underprivileged people and assisting them in court, with a long-term goal of developing social policy.
"It will be something focused on human rights," she said.