Adriana Proctor not only has big dreams, but has already worked hard to make them come true as she prepares to earn a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and criminology from Georgia Southern University’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at age 17 make.
Proctor entered college through her dual high school enrollment program in her freshman year and was only 14 when she graduated. She spent only two years in high school and began full-time at Georgia Southern’s Armstrong campus in Savannah when she was 15. She has done everything with one goal in mind – to one day become a lawyer.
“I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer,” Proctor said. “It is my dream job and would allow me to meaningfully represent and support communities where I am needed. I would like to make a difference, especially with children, through community initiatives, government agencies or even private practices.”
Despite being years ahead of her peers, Proctor always faces new challenges. Because she is under 18, she is unable to enter into the same types of agreements as an adult.
“It was difficult to find work in the criminal justice field,” Proctor said. “Because of my age, there were a number of confidentiality concerns, particularly in relation to the audience I intend to work with.”
Proctor has not let these challenges slow him down. While she struggles to find work near where she lives in Savannah, she keeps working towards her goals.
“I’m working to overcome the age-related issues by looking for work outside of Savannah,” Proctor said. “I conduct informational calls, interact with professionals from a wide variety of fields to network, and call companies and agencies to see if there are any exceptions that can be made for my age.”
This connection opened up new opportunities for her and opened the door to the Statesboro office of the Bulloch County Public Defender.
“I’ve partnered with a woman who facilitates a tutoring program for elementary school kids,” Proctor said. “She was able to put me in touch with the Statesboro Police Chief, who put me through to the Statesboro public defender’s office. I hope to work there, even just as a volunteer, to gain experience in the judiciary.”
Proctor also works to learn Spanish and started a community in the Hispanic Outreach and Leadership Achievement Program on the Armstrong campus in Savannah. While this may help her in her future career, its importance to her comes from connecting with her heritage.
“I’m not quite fluent in Spanish yet, but I’ve been taking classes since I was in sixth grade,” Proctor said. “Spanish has always been important to me as my father is from Puerto Rico and I was surrounded by it. We went there frequently and my paternal grandparents speak both English and Spanish in their home.”
Proctor’s family was an important source of support throughout her college years. Both of her parents served time in the military and her mother was an inspiration to her.
“My mother was a big motivator for me,” Proctor said. “She was able to get her bachelor’s degree this year and start her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling while also taking care of my little sister.”
Proctor hopes to have a similar effect on those around her.
“I hope to be a source of inspiration to my community,” Proctor said. “I’m drawn to working with children because of their potential, and I feel like I’m perfectly positioned at this stage in my life to make a difference in their lives.”