Jill Gafford is the valedictorian of New Albany High School.

She plans to attend to the Mississippi University for Women to pursue a degree in nursing.

“I just think it’s a good career to impact my patients and just make a difference in people’s lives,” Gafford said.

In her spare time, Gafford enjoys spending time with friends and family and playing tennis.

Respect, compassion and determination are important qualities for a person to have, she added. Her parents, Jeff and Rhonda Gafford, inspire her.

“They always support me in whatever I do, and they’ve instilled the importance of hard work at an early age,” Gafford said.

In terms of advice she would give to other students, she would tell them to “take advantage of every opportunity and never take your time here for granted. It flies by.”

In her graduation speech she will be talking about the future.

Asked how she was able to achieve the success of being the valedictorian, Gafford said, “I’ve worked really hard, studied a lot. The teachers here have really helped me and always pushed me to do my best.”

Gafford is a member of the National Honor Society, Anchor Club, HOSA, Jr. Aldermen and Northeast Mississippi Youth Foundation. She is also a member of the tennis team.

The most difficult part about high school is balancing everything, she said.

“It gets really busy, so it’s kind of hard to balance everything like sports and clubs and all your academics,” Gafford said. “It’s really hard to balance sometimes.”

But she also enjoys school, especially being surrounded by friends and teachers.

 “It’s really fun to just come to school every day and learn and being surrounded by people that you love,” Gafford said.

She said it was important for her to do so well in high school because she wanted to make her parents proud and prepare herself for college.

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