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Verbena’s valedictorian will attend AUM

Sometimes it takes a little pain to achieve a little enlightenment.

When Verbena High School senior Abreia Bulger broke her foot in a gymnastics accident, she took an X-ray and shared a conversation with a radiologist who opened her eyes to a potential career path. From that point on, Bulger’s objective was to work her way toward medical school.

Now she’s one step closer.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt the résumé when you’re named your high school’s valedictorian.

But that’s where a 4.1 grade point average gets you. With hard work comes great reward, and that reward gave the Montgomery native a sense of pride.

“It was an amazing feeling,” Bulger said. “It felt like all of my hard work had just paid off.”

Bulger said she never set a specific goal to be valedictorian. She only wanted to work hard and try her best. Whatever long term prizes happened to find her would only serve as welcome additions.

After all, she was only following her father’s advice. Raymond Earl Bulger passed away seven years ago, but not before he left a considerably strong impression on his daughter who would utilize that knowledge to excel academically. Self-determination became commonplace.

“He always taught me you had to do your homework and study,” she said. “That just became part of my routine, my way of doing things. I’ve always done that. It was just a good habit that I had.”

Her hard work in the classroom is her way of keeping her father’s spirit with her at all times.

She insists on remembering those strong morals and values he taught her years ago that she knew would one day pay off.

It was the motivation that would put her where she is today.

Bulger will enroll at Auburn University at Montgomery on a full academic scholarship this fall, where she will pursue a pre-med degree and hopefully enter medical school afterwards to study radiology.

Only 30 to 40 minutes away, the drive won’t be too far for Bulger, who made a conscious effort to stay close to home when choosing which college to attend. That way, she’ll just be a short drive away from her proud mother, Nichelle Bulger-Johnson.

“I’ll probably be home every weekend,” Bulger said.

Steering her in that direction toward medical school was a love for any subject pertaining to science in high school. Bulger loved studying chemistry and biology.

She can’t wait to graduate. She said not only does she know her parents always wanted a bright academic future for her, she also knew it was completely in her hands to put herself in a position to choose which college to attend.

“I don’t really have a problem leaving high school behind because I know there is so much more out there to experience and more to go out and pursue,” she said.

While she’s pleased to graduate and take that next step, Bulger will fondly remember VHS for the people and their undying support and companionship.

“I like the small school feeling, knowing everybody,” she said. “Everyone is there with you, cheering you on.”

Bulger was a liaison and ambassador for the VHS student government as well as a scholar bowl, Beta Club and yearbook staff member. She also coached pre-schoolers in gymnastics outside of school. She said English teacher Lenore Price, math teacher Debbie Ward and science teacher Mike Harris all had positive influences on her educationally and personally.

“It was more than just in the classroom, they always gave outside support,” she said. “If I had a bad test, they’d come to me and ask if anything was bothering me. I could always go to them and know they were going to help me.”

VHS principal Larry Raines said the school will not only miss Bulger the high academic achiever but also the person, who left a strong mark on the school and community. He said this is the first year his school offered advanced placement courses through its ACCESS Lab, where several students took advantage and took one course. Bulger took three and made A’s in each one.

“Her service to VHS has been great and it will take several students to fill her shoes,” Raines said. “‘Outstanding’ describes Abreia’s accomplishments, service and personality.”