Ellie Gross

Model High School senior Ellie Gross 

With all of her family coming up through Model schools, there was never really any other choice, she said. But that is perfectly fine with the soon-to-be graduate, who plans to attend the University of North Georgia in the fall. And though she is looking forward to striking out on her own in college, she will miss that small-town high school feel, where she knows everybody and everybody knows her. 

Since elementary school, Gross has moved up year after year with the same group of students in her gifted classes.

“It’s almost like we’re related,” said Gross, who was this year’s recipient of the Rome Noon Optimist Club Fernando Guzman-Ambriz Life Hero Award.

After graduation that everyday relationship will fade as Gross and her friends head out for different destinations. It is bittersweet, to finish high school and graduate but then leave behind what has been such a big part of her life since childhood, Gross said.

Gross, who is one of more than a dozen students in the 2018 graduating class to have a 4.0 GPA, was also accepted into the University of Tennessee, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Auburn University. She said she initially was leaning heavily toward Tennessee, but the idea of sitting in lecture halls of 300 students caused hesitation. And after reading student life blogs about UAB — with one saying you’re not really a UAB student if you do not get hit by a car on the way to class — and realizing she was not ready to move to a big city, she looked elsewhere.

Eventually, Gross believed UNG was the right fit for her: Smaller class sizes, closer to her family and her three beloved pomeranians, and much cheaper tuition with the help of HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships. With a strong literary inclination — a lover of the classics, but none better than Harry Potter, she said — she thought about majoring in English on her way to becoming a writer. However, as a writer, she was terrified she would never land herself a job.

So, Gross settled on majoring in psychology — possibly with English as her double major or minor — drawing on her interest in the workings of the brain and its influence on human motivations. However, even with this major, she continues to have aspirations to write teen fantasy stories on the side, using her studies in psychology for developing complex characters, while securing a steady job.

In thinking back on what she will remember from high school, Gross recalled what her literature teacher Rachel Jones said of her as she was announced as the student of the month. Jones said she was one of the best writers she has ever taught.

“I was just about to cry,” she said.

Rome News-Tribune is highlighting outstanding graduates from area schools over the next few weeks in a series of profiles.