Hometown: Holly Springs
High School: Holly Springs High School
Attending: University of Alabama on a full academic scholarship
Unexpected: Voted Holly Springs High School Homecoming Queen
Inspired by: Her cross country coaches, Kimberly Henry and Scott Myers
Motto: “Work hard — I’m convinced it will always pay off.”
Catching up with Gracie Vaughan during her last month of high school was tough. In between finishing her AP Capstone diploma, organizing the Holly Springs High School senior class prank (a makeshift, operational Waffle House in the school parking lot), and wrapping up several leadership roles at the school, we met up with Gracie at the Holly Springs Food Cupboard just before she completed an impressively full high school career.
So full, in fact, that Gracie’s parents urged her to “relax and stop signing up for things,” she says with a smile.
Student Body President; Mental Health Advocacy Club President; Purple Craze Leadership Board, National Honor Society, and National Math Honor Society member; and athlete in several varsity sports, to list a few examples.
“I am in everything, and … I thought it was really fun. It’s rewarding to do all these different things and try new things,” she says.
“Grace Vaughan has had a tremendous impact on our school,” says Kristie Jones, school counselor at Holly Springs High School. “She is a servant to our community. … She has a hand in almost all the events that we host at our school. Grace’s contributions are valuable, impactful, and innovative.”
When the pandemic shut down schools (and everything else) in early 2020, Gracie’s schedule abruptly cleared.
“I had so much going on, then it was all gone,” she recalls.
“I was very bored, and still running a lot,” she says, so she piggybacked on a friend’s initiative to support the Holly Springs Food Cupboard by creating a 24-hour marathon fundraiser.
“I started at midnight and ran 1.1 miles every hour until midnight the next night,” says Gracie. “I wasn’t expecting much. I set a goal of $1,000. We met that within the first hour of the fundraiser. It was crazy.”
Overall the marathon raised $14,000 for the Food Cupboard in 2020, and $9,000 the following year.
“I expected it to be easy. It’s only 1 mile per hour. I’m used to running 8 miles at a time,” says Gracie, a four-year runner on the HSHS cross country and track teams. Continually starting and stopping proved much harder than she anticipated.
“I ran a 1-mile loop around my neighborhood, Sunset Ridge. There is a really long and really slow hill. I’ll never run that hill again.”
Motivation came from knowing that food donations were sorely needed, especially during the shutdown since school lunches would not be available to fellow students who depended on them.
This fall, Gracie will attend the University of Alabama on a full academic scholarship studying civil engineering and construction management in their STEM Path to MBA program.
“The campus is so pretty. People were super nice and welcoming,” Gracie says of a campus visit she took with her family last year. “When it’s right, you kind of know.”
“I’m nervous and excited about moving to another state,” says the Holly Springs native. “I’m excited to establish myself and step out of my comfort zone.”
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