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Valedictorians and Salutatorians 2024
SHS 2024 Valedictorian Morgan Brown and Salutatorian Jessica Bryant

Conyers, Ga. –  Rockdale County Public Schools (RCPS) congratulates the Valedictorians and Salutatorians of the Class of 2024. The Valedictorians and Salutatorians were notified in surprise announcements during school March 28, 2024. Administrators, counselors, family members, and classmates celebrated the remarkable accomplishments of these top scholars. The Valedictorians and Salutatorians will lead their senior class in their school’s graduation ceremony, which is scheduled for Wednesday, May 22, 2024. For more information, please visit

Flyer with RCPS logo and photos of Alyssa Garnett and Jackie Cruz, Michael Okigbo and Kenia Munoz, Hayaa Patel and Abigail Buchanan, Morgan Brown and Jessica Bryant. Flyer says Valedictorians & Salutatorians Class of 2024, Heritage High School - Valedictorian Alyssa Garnett, College:  Spelman College Honors Program, Intended Major:  Health Science; Salutatorian Jackie Cruz, College:  University of Georgia, Emory University, or Vanderbilt University, Intended Major:  Nursing or Public Health. Rockdale County High School - Valedictorian Michael Okigbo, College:  Georgia Tech or Georgia State, Intended Major:  Computer Science; Salutatorian Kenia Muñoz, College:  Tuskegee University, Intended Major:  Nursing. Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology - Valedictorian Hayaa Patel, College:  Georgia Tech, Intended Major: Neuroscience; Salutatorian Abigail Buchanan, College:  Georgia Tech, Intended Major: Biochemistry. Salem High School - Valedictorian Morgan Brown, College:  Georgia Southern University, Intended Major:  Kinesiology/Exercise Science; Salutatorian Jessica Bryant, College:  University of West Georgia, Intended Major:  Nursing. More at



Name:  Alyssa Jenai Garnett
Family members:  My family members include my parents, Alfred and Angelia Garnett, my sister, Alexeia Garnett, and my brother, Armand Garnett.
Intended College/University: Spelman College Honors Program
Intended Major:  Health Science
Intended Career Field:  Pediatrician
RCPS Schools Attended:  I attended Rockdale County High School and Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology my freshman year. However, I transferred to Heritage High School and Rockdale Career Academy the following academic year.
Awards/Scholarships: Superintendent’s Academic Award April 2023, Superintendent’s Academic Award March 2024, Top 10 Superintendent’s Award May 2023, Georgia Certificate of Merit May 2023, 3rd Place NHD South Metro Fair May 2023, Dual Enrollment Clayton State Dean’s List 2023 – 2024.
Extracurricular Activities:  My extracurricular activities include serving as the Vice President of the National Honor Society, being a member of Beta Club, volunteering at Rainbow Elementary in DeKalb County as a student volunteer, and working as a dental assistant at my Work-Based Learning placement at Hedrick Family Dentistry.
Favorite Subjects:  Science has always been my favorite subject due to its captivating exploration of the natural world and its endless possibilities for discovery and innovation.
Memorable help from a teacher/staff member/mentor:  I will always cherish the memorable help and guidance I received from both of my teachers, Mr. Harris and Ms. Brantley, who went above and beyond to support and inspire me throughout my academic journey. Thanks to the encouragement and push from Mr. Harris, I participated in the National History Day Social Studies Fair, which turned out to be a very enjoyable and enriching experience. I am grateful for his support as it led to me placing at the county level, a significant achievement that I will always remember. Additionally, Ms. Brantley played a pivotal role in deepening my passion for the healthcare field, igniting my love for anatomy through her engaging teaching methods and inspiring guidance. Moreover, I am incredibly grateful for Ms. Martin and Ms. Leaphart in the counseling office, who have been a constant source of positivity and support, brightening my days with their warmth and encouragement. I’m just so thankful for all of the wonderful teachers and staff members I encountered in high school!
Best high school experience:  My favorite high school experience will always be attending the football games, where the spirit of unity and excitement created unforgettable memories that will stay with me forever.
What was your family's and friends' reaction?:  Upon being named Valedictorian, my family and friends were initially shocked by the news, but deep down, they were not surprised, as they had witnessed my dedication and hard work throughout my academic journey. Their overwhelming support and pride have been a source of motivation and joy for me.
What do you look forward to doing over the summer?:  Over the summer, I look forward to finally being able to rest and recharge after the intense academic year. I plan to spend quality time with family and friends, enjoy outdoor activities, increase my plant collection, and once again, indulge in some well-deserved relaxation to rejuvenate myself for college. Along with this, I am excited to complete the Grady Health System Teen Experience Leadership Program over the summer alongside my friends, Zoe and Cadyn.
Advice for freshmen:  To the freshman students, remember that while academics are important, it’s also crucial to take time to enjoy yourself and have fun. Finding a balance between work and play is essential for maintaining your mental well-being during a demanding academic year. So, don’t forget to make time for activities you love, socializing with friends, and pursuing hobbies that bring you joy. Remember, a healthy work-life balance is key to staying motivated, focused, and ultimately achieving success in all aspects of your life. Reflecting on my high school experience, I struggled with finding a balance between work and relaxation. I often found myself unsure of when to take breaks, leading to increased stress and feelings of overwhelm. Learning the importance of self-care and time management has been a valuable lesson for me as I continue to strive for a healthier balance in all aspects of my life.


Name:  Jacqueline Cruz
Family members: Gabriel Cruz Garcia (Father), Alejandra Cruz (Mother), Gabriel Cruz Martinez (Brother)
Intended College/University (or deciding between): University of Georgia, Emory University, or Vanderbilt University
Intended Major:  Nursing or Public Health
Intended Career Field: Medical Field
RCPS Schools Attended:  J.H. House Elementary, Edwards Middle School, Heritage High School, Rockdale Career Academy
Awards/Scholarships: Superintendent's Academic Award for Top 10 (10th-12th), Principal's List (9th-12th), Seal of Biliteracy, Most Intelligent Senior Superlative, Healthcare Pathway Completion, Quest Bridge College Prep Scholar, Questbridge Finalist, Georgia Merit Scholar, Georgia Merit Scholar, Governor's Honors Program Nominee, HOPE/Zell Miller.
Extracurricular Activities: Student Council (Senior Class President), RCA Ambassadors (Officer), Panda Express (Shift Lead), National Honor Society, The Voice Club (10th), Panda Express (Shift Lead)
Favorite Subjects: History
Memorable help from a teacher/staff member/mentor:  I have been fortunate to encounter several inspiring teachers who have made a long-lasting impact on me such as Ms. Gunby, Mrs. Hardaway, Mr. Smith and Mrs. Ray. However, it is Mr. Ryan at Rockdale Career Academy who has truly inspired me the most. Memorable moments unfold in his class daily. For a long time, I hated math, but Mr. Ryan’s contagious passion for teaching has reignited my interest and understanding of math once again and for that I will forever be grateful for him.
Best high school experience: Sophomore year chemistry is one of the standout experiences in my four years of high school. Despite my habitual tiredness in the mornings, which often led me to falling asleep in class, my teacher, Mr. Nackers, never lost faith in me (allegedly). Even though I wasn’t as attentive as I should’ve been, his belief in me pushed me to pass the class. The atmosphere in chemistry was always funny and I had a great group of friends making it a memorable year in my high school journey.
What was your family's and friends' reaction?:  My family beamed with both pride and excitement for me, and even friends whom I’m not as close to anymore expressed how proud they were of me. Everyone’s overwhelming support and kindness from both my family and friends means a lot to me and I am very grateful for everyone in my life.  
What do you look forward to doing over the summer?:  I look forward to spending time with my friends before we all head off to college. I also look forward to reuniting with friends who are coming back from college. I want to spend my summer close to the people I hold dear to me.
Advice for freshmen:  A lot of people disregard freshman year, but freshman year is a crucial point in your high school journey that will affect your GPA so make sure to do your best. With that being said I would also like to emphasize that while grades are important to a certain extent, never let yourself get overwhelmed with school. School is important but, it is not more important than you and it took me a long time to realize that so make sure you find things you enjoy doing in life whether that be extracurriculars, singing, baking, dancing, etc. to help you create a balance in your life and make high school amazing!



Name:  Michael Okigbo
Family members:  Loveth Okigbo, George Okigbo, Michael Okigbo, Henry Okigbo, Justin Okigbo, and myself.
Intended College/University (or deciding between): Georgia Tech or Georgia State
Intended Major:  Computer Science
Intended Career Field:  Cyber Security
RCPS Schools Attended:  C.J. Hicks Elementary, Memorial Middle School, Rockdale County High School
Awards/Scholarships: To be received
Extracurricular Activities:  Sports
Favorite Subjects:  Mathematics
Memorable help from a teacher/staff member/mentor:   Dr. Breakfield
Best high school experience:  First year back from quarantine
What was your family's and friends' reaction?:  Surprised
What do you look forward to doing over the summer?  Enjoying my last summer before college
Advice for freshmen:  Stay true to yourself and don't wait for validation from others. BE YOURSELF.


Name:  Kenia Muñoz
Family members: Patricia Colli Chin (Mom), Angel Muñoz Hernandez (Dad), Clara Colli Muñoz (Sister), Orlando Colli Muñoz (Brother).
Intended College/University: Tuskegee University
Intended Major:  Nursing
Intended Career Field: PICU/NICU Nurse
RCPS Schools Attended:  Flat Shoals Elementary, Memorial Middle, Rockdale Career Academy, Rockdale County High
Awards/Scholarships: Principal’s List 9th-12th Grade, Top 10 9th-12th Grade, Superintendent’s Award: 10th-12th Grade, Tuskegee Merit Scholarship.
Extracurricular Activities: FBLA, TSA, HOSA, Work-Based Learning.
Favorite Subjects: Science
Best high school experience:  Meeting and making friends.
What was your family's and friends' reaction?: They were proud and expect more to come from me.
What do you look forward to doing over the summer?:  Spending time with my loved ones. Having fun with family but mainly my nephew. And of course getting money.
Advice for freshmen:   Don’t get caught in the wrong crowd. Stay on track with school.



Name:  Hayaa Patel
Family members:  Dharmista Patel, Jignesh Patel, Srusty Patel
Intended College/University: Georgia Tech
Intended Major:  Neuroscience
Intended Career Field:  Medical Field
RCPS Schools Attended:  Memorial Middle School, Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology
Awards/Scholarships:  AP Scholar Award, Rotary Club Award and Superintendents Award
Extracurricular Activities:  Soccer, Beta Club, National Honors Society
Favorite Subjects:  Math and Science, Specifically Calculus and Chemistry
Memorable help from a teacher/staff member/mentor:  My soccer coach, Coach Equihua, has helped me through many aspects of my life, regarding friends, soccer, and even academics.
Best high school experience:  Best experience was playing soccer and actually engaging with students other than Magnet students. Soccer also gave me another perspective on how to approach problems and new people around me.
What was your family's and friends' reaction?:  They were surprised and also very proud of my progress throughout high school.
What do you look forward to doing over the summer?:  I am excited to visit India this summer for a whole month.
Advice for freshmen:  Start early for everything because you’ll never have enough time for it.  


Name:  Abigail Buchanan
Family members:  Marc Buchanan (dad), Pamela Buchanan (mom), Faith Buchanan, Caleb Buchanan, Noah Buchanan, David Buchanan, Joshua Buchanan
Intended College/University (or deciding between): Georgia Institute of Technology
Intended Major:  Biochemistry
Intended Career Field: Virology
RCPS Schools Attended:  Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, Rockdale County High School, Rockdale Career Academy, Davis Middle School, Lorraine Elementary School
Awards/Scholarships:  Scholarships: Georgia Institute of Technology Full-Ride Stamps Scholarship, Vanderbilt University Crescere Aude Summer Scholarship, Verizon Scholarship through HYPE Scholars, Horace Ruben Scholarship, Rotary Community Service Scholarship winner and John K. Morgan Scholarship Finalist, Psi Phi Essay Contest Scholarship. Academic Awards: International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) Finalist, United States Air Force Laboratory of Research Award at ISEF, 1st Honors at the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair (GSEF), 1st in Category (Cellular/Molecular Biology) at GSEF, 1st Honors Rockdale Regional Science and Engineering fair (RRSEF) , Winner of the Regeneron Biomedical Award at RRSEF, Grand Champion winner of RRSEF advancing to Georgia Science and Engineering Fair (2022-23), RRSEF 1st Honors (2021), 1st Place Freshmen Poster Session (2020). Speech & Debate: 1st place Sequoyah’s Autumn Argument (2023), 1st place Sequoyah’s Autumn Argument (2022), 1st place Original Oratory Champion at Walter Cotter Classic (2023), 2nd place Carter King at Midtown Highschool (2023), 3rd place GFCA Varsity State Championships (2023), 3rd place GFCA Varsity State Championships (2022), 3rd place Carter King at Midtown Highschool (2022).  AP Scholar with Distinction (2023), Superintendent's Academic Award (2020-24), Principal’s List (2020-2024). Varsity Tennis most improved player award (2022). "The Best is Yet to Come" Leadership Retreat at SASC 1st Place Outstanding Membership & Motivation (2023). 1st Place Dismantle the Patriarchy Photography Category (2022). Young GA Author's 1st Place District Level (2023).
Extracurricular Activities:  Senior Leadership Team of RMSST’s Annual Leadership Retreat: “The Best is Yet to Come” (2022-2024), Speech and Debate Team Captain (2020-2024), Ambassadors Vice President/Head of Internal Affairs (2021-Present), Varsity Tennis RCHS (2020-2023), Science Team (2021-2023), Association of Artists Club Historian (2021-2023), Spanish Honor Society Club Historian (2020-2021), Beta Lambda Tau Member (2020-2021).
Favorite Subjects:  Chemistry, Microbiology, & Research
Memorable help from a teacher/staff member/mentor:  Since the third grade, math has been the bane of my existence and significantly contributed to a lack of self-confidence in my intelligence. Mr. Hornbeck was the first teacher who made me feel capable in math and constantly reminded our classes that we were smart regardless of how inferior we may have felt.
Best high school experience:  My best high school experience was traveling to Dallas, Texas for the International Science and Engineering Fair with two of my best friends and one of my favorite teachers in junior year. I met hundreds of other student researchers from across the globe, won an award, indulged my passion for research and public speaking, and explored the city for a week.
What was your family's and friends' reaction?:  I had just finished up at my last leadership retreat when I got the news that I was salutatorian. I called my mom and we screamed over the phone together. Afterwards, I was in the car with some of my best friends when I told them, and they expressed nothing but pure love and joy towards me as they congratulated me. They then paid for my first trip to Juicy Crab to celebrate.
What do you look forward to doing over the summer?:  This summer, I’m excited to take a two-week Tech Trek in another state or country with the Georgia Tech Stamps Scholars! I’ll also be participating in their six-week Challenge program and attending a Pierce the Veil concert with my best friend.
Advice for freshmen:  My biggest advice is to do what you love. My high school experience has been extremely fulfilling, and there’s nothing I’d change about it. I’m exactly where I want to be because I followed my heart and was able to impact the lives of others in the process. Cultivate real connections and give back to the community that is helping to propel you to such great heights.



Name:  Morgan Brown
Family Members:  Nichole Brown (Mom), Corey Brown (Dad), Corey Brown II (Brother), Dorothy Wright (Grandmother), Jeryl Wright (Uncle)
Intended College:  Georgia Southern University
Intended Major:  Kinesiology/Exercise Science
Intended Career Field:  Athletic Trainer
RCPS Schools Attended:  Salem High School, Rockdale Career Academy
Awards/ Scholarships:  A B Honor with Distinction 2022-2023, Principals List 2021-2022, 2023-2024, Most Outstanding Player 2022-2024, Georgia Certificate of Merit 2023, 3.5 of Above 2020-2024, Superintendent’s Academic Award 2021-2024, Rotary Club of Conyers 2024, Coach’s Award 2024, 23, Volleyball Academic Award-2024
Extracurricular Activities:  Varsity Volleyball 2020-2024, Beta Club 2021-2024, National Honor Society 2021-2024, Yearbook 2022-2024
Favorite Subjects:  Microeconomics, Algebra, World History
Memorable help from a teacher/ staff member/ mentor:  I was having a hard time with my teammates, and I was very upset about the situation, but my teacher Mrs. Belser knew I was upset and gave me a good talk.
Best High School Experience:  When everyone was doing the cupid shuffle during lunch.
What was your family's and friends' reaction?:  My family was greatly overjoyed and in shock. My friends weren't surprised because most of them say I'm the smartest person they know.
What are you looking forward to doing over the summer:  Going on vacation and shopping for my dorm room.
Advice for freshmen:  Have a strong mindset in everything. Be strong in your class. Sometimes the work may be difficult, or you might want to procrastinate. You may even face some challenging teachers. Push through because in the end it builds character.  Have a strong mindset with your peers. Do not fall into the wrong crowd. Find people who will benefit you. Surround yourself with people who will help you and not hurt you.


Name:  Jessica Bryant
Family members: Lisa Robinson-Nieves (Mother), Juan Nieves (Stepfather), Oneil Dowe (Brother)
Intended College/University:  University of West Georgia
Intended Major:  Nursing
Intended Career Field: Travel Nurse
RCPS Schools Attended:  Salem High School, Rockdale Career Academy
Awards/Scholarships:  Superintendent's Academic Award twice, Principal's List, Georgia Certificate of Merit, Honor Roll with Distinction.
Extracurricular Activities:  FBLA Member, Student Athletic Aide
Favorite Subjects:  Statistics and English Language
Memorable help from a teacher/staff member/mentor:  When Mr. Ryan (my statistics teacher) gave me a second chance to retake a test.
Best high school experience:   Going on the state FBLA conference trip with the Sigmans (Ms. K. Sigman, Ms. M. Sigman)
What was your family's and friends' reaction?:  They were very proud of me and quite excited.
What do you look forward to doing over the summer?:  I look forward to lots of rest and settling into college.
Advice for freshmen:  You haven't failed until you've decided to stop trying again.