Augusta, GA -
"I have been extremely fortunate in my life. I have literally everything I can ask for," says Nolan Brandon, a senior at Augusta Preparatory School.
Brandon is counting his blessings these days. In a speech to the senior class, Nolan points to those who fought for our freedom, as the reason he can enjoy life today.
He will attend the U.S. Naval Academy this fall, but first, he will graduate this month in the top ten of his class.
Columbia County's star student is quick to point out that he couldn't have done it alone. He credits his family for bringing out the best in him and is especially grateful to his brother, Hutton.
"He's the one that pushed me to do well on the SAT's, he's the one who pushed me to read more. He's just been phenomenal,” Nolan says.
Nolan's humility speaks volumes about his character. After all, this young man has plenty to brag about.
This year, Nolan helped lead the Cavalier football team to its first state championship. "Football has challenged me physically, mentally, and I really think that is has built me as a person. I wouldn't be where I am today without football and Coach Bachelor," Nolan says.
Another person who helped to shape Nolan's life: Advanced Calculus teacher Tim Shafer. Like his brother before him, Nolan selected Mr. Shafer as his Star Teacher.
"For Nolan to choose me, for his older brother Hutton to choose me, in both cases...humbled and honored," says Shafer.
So what is the secret to Nolan Brandon's success? Wonderful family? Playing sports? His involvement at his church?
According to his mom, Eileen, it's all of the above. "We have to surround our children with positive influences. We can't do it on our own," she says. "I am just thankful for all the people in his life who have helped him along the way," she adds.
Next, Nolan's off to Maryland, where he'll begin a new chapter of his life as a Midshipman and while he's not sure if he'll make the military a career, he is sure of one thing. "I will pick a path and I know I will be dedicated to that and I know I will really enjoy it," he says.