SWAG on 6: Dillard High Senior Helping Classmates Succeed

Olivia Aiken is on track to be valedictorian of her senior class. She’s taking all AP and dual enrollment classes, but she has spent her years in high school looking outward, not inward. (Published Friday, Jan. 27, 2017)

Where Olivia Aiken goes, her friends follow. That’s a good thing, because Olivia sets the academic pace at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale.

“This private, this quiet, this shy little girl is making a difference in the lives of so many people,” said principal Casandra Robinson. “I mean, she is the model student.”

Olivia is on track to be valedictorian of her senior class. She’s taking all AP and dual enrollment classes, but she has spent her years in high school looking outward, not inward.

“I am a naturally giving person so I think that’s just kind of my nature, so if anyone needs help with anything, if I’m available, I’m always there,” Olivia said.

It started with an English class in 10th grade. Olivia’s friends were struggling. Half the class was struggling. So Olivia stepped in on her own time to help.

“Honestly, I didn’t know that i had such a profound impact on people and it kind of makes me feel good to hear it,” Olivia said.

Olivia voluntarily tutored more than a dozen classmates, who say she saved their grades then, and inspires them now.

“I personally believe without the help of Olivia I don’t know if I would’ve passed,” explained Khadijah Anderson.

Another classmate, Darylin Smith, said, “I feel like she pushed us, everybody always wanted to be on Olivia’s level.”

“She’s like, motivated me and pushed me to be better than what I am and make sure I’m on top of my grades,” said Sheree Ramsey.

Mention any of this to Olivia, and she can’t hold back a grin.

“It makes me feel very good to know that i could help them get to where they’re going or help them reach their goals and it’s just a joy seeing all of my peers succeed as well,” said Olivia.

That generous spirit of giving doesn’t end with her classmates. Olivia’s taken it upon herself to feed the homeless at Thanksgiving. Not by volunteering at a shelter. No, she talked her family into making extra food to feed people outside their own home. They’ve been doing it for the past four years, and nearly 200 people showed up this past Thanksgiving.

“They just show their gratitude and how grateful they are and it really makes me happy that I’m able to help them and impact them with something as simple as a meal,” Olivia said.

So what’s next for this superstar kid? Here’s her to-do list for college and beyond: become a CPA, or open a vegan restaurant, or go to medical school.

“I feel like anything i put my mind to I’m able to achieve it,” Olivia said.

We’re thinking, all of the above.