Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Berkmar senior Kerra Jones will be majoring in biology and minoring in Spanish while attending Duke University next fall on a partial academic scholarship. During her years at Berkmar High School Jones was a varsity cheerleader, volleyball and track athlete.
She said this as an afterthought; as a small realization, not a defining characteristic. But for Kerra Jones, the short sentence sums up her life.
"I wanted to do everything, I guess," the recent Berkmar graduate said.
And for four years in high school, she did.
The was a four-year varsity volleyball player, she was a cheerleader for four years and her senior year she became one of the first female pole vaulters ever at Berkmar.
"I had always wanted to join since freshman year, but it didn't fit in my schedule," Jones said, who topped out at 7 feet, 6 inches and finished fifth in Region 8-AAAAAA. "I was proud of myself. It was definitely a fun experience."
And here's why Jones had to wait until her final high school year to free up her schedule.
In her four years at Berkmar, she took 14 Advanced Placement classes and only got two Bs.
"I got two Bs in pre-calc my sophomore year and it broke my heart," Jones said.
Outside of school, she worked retail jobs, volunteered at Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville and was a part of the hospitals Medical Explorers Program, meeting once a month to tour different parts of the hospital.
Her GPA of 3.995, mixed with her resume and a combined score of 2020 on the SAT earned Jones a partial academic scholarship to Duke where she plans to be a neonatologist.
"Duke is the school I have always wanted to go to," Jones said. "It's a blessing."
Jones' interest in Duke began in junior high, when an outreach program allowed her to take the SAT as a seventh-grader. The university filled her with information, sending her brochures and magazines. She visited the campus three times during high school, staying there once for the Black Student Alliance Invitational in March.
"Durham is like a really small town," Jones said. "The city is a very close-knit community. They will also help me with my career and everything."
Back to that career. Neonatologist. How does a high school student chose that specific field, working with premature infants?
"I have always watched baby stories on TLC and doctor TV shows," Jones said. "I have always loved babies and little children. I thought being a neonatologist would be the best thing for me to enjoy my job and make a difference in people's lives.
"I started off wanting to be a pediatrician, but I decided I wanted to be a neonatologist. I'll be in school longer, but it's OK. I like it."
Clearly, Jones enjoys school. And everything that comes with it. Her active life began early on, with gymnastics and recreation cheerleading.
"I always have to know what's going on. I always wanted to try new things," Jones said. "I like to stay active. I always have had good grades. My parents let me continue with sports as long as I had a good academic record."
She exceeded good with ease. Well, with effort, work and lack of sleep.
"I guess you could say I don't get enough sleep," Jones said. "I just felt like I had to do what I had to do, to still do the activities that I want."
And she doesn't plan many changes once she gets to Durham, N.C. She knows there is club volleyball, intramural rugby and, of course, Duke basketball. Duke, like Berkmar, is a basketball school and with six years of cheerleading experience, Jones said she is ready to join in the noise at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
"I want to make sure I get to campus and I am busy, but still have time for my school work and to keep my grades up," Jones said. "I don't want to go to campus and not be involved."