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Cadet Kenneth Walker "beats the odds" to serve his country
(Cadet Kenneth Walker is training to serve his country in honor of his deceased mother.)
19-year-old Cadet Kenneth Walker has goals of serving as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army one day, but he’s had to overcome a lot of adversity in his life to get to that point. Walker was born to a teenage mother and grew up in some rough areas on the Southside of Atlanta, Georgia. He lived in a trailer with his mother and three siblings. When he was four-years-old, Walker was sent to live with his Grandfather, Harold Gant, because his mother was unable to take care of him or his siblings. Walker says it was also painful to watch his brother be sent to foster care.
“We made the most of our situation, said Cadet Kenneth Walker. “My sisters and I stuck together. Once I got to my Grandad’s house that’s when I started going to school and I did really well in school. It was a better living situation because he could feed and clothe us.”
While living with his Grandfather, Walker says their neighborhood was infested with gangs and drugs. Tragedy struck in 2006 when the only father figure that Walker ever knew passed away. When he was 8-years-old his Grandfather, Harold Gant, died in 2006 from Prostate Cancer. A year later, tragedy struck again on October, 18, 2007 when his mother, Harriett Gant, died at 28-years-old from a heart attack.
“My Grandfather was the only dad I knew,” said Cadet Walker. “So when he died I didn’t really have anybody. When my mom died it was really bad. I thought the world was going to end.”
Walker and his siblings were forced to live back and forth between different relatives for several years. He finally found stability living with an Uncle and Aunt and was transferred from South Atlanta High School to Forest Park High School. Despite the obstacles in his life, Walker was able to graduate from Forest Park High School in 2016 with a 3.82 GPA. He heard about Georgia Military College (GMC) through a Recruitment Sustainment Program through the United States Army National Guard.
“Honestly, I wasn’t really planning on going to college,” said Cadet Walker. “Even though I had a 3.8 GPA in high school, I didn’t take the SAT, ASVAB, or any of that seriously. My plan was to originally go active duty in the Army as a mechanic. I was on a tour at GMC and Master Sergeant (MSG) Joseph Thomas came to me and started talking to me about the State Service Scholarship and I was interested in GMC from there. GMC has taught me discipline, leadership, and has exposed me to different cultures. ”
Cadet Walker currently serves in the Georgia National Guard as a State Service Cadet at GMC. He’s also pursuing a General Studies degree at GMC and hopes to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice at a four-year college/university. He wants to finish school to make his mother proud.
“My mom didn’t finish college and I didn’t really get to know and love her like a child should love their mom, so I just thought that maybe she’d be proud of me if I finished college and got a degree because that was something that she couldn’t do.”