Van Alstyne senior goes above and beyond

By: Maddie Garrett Email
By: Maddie Garrett Email

VAN ALSTYNE, TX – Earning your high school diploma can be a momentous occasion, and the same could be said for a college degree. But one Van Alstyne senior is doing both, all before he turns 18.

His name is Justin Larkins; known to friends and teachers as a good natured, smart and hard working teenager. His drive and thirst for knowledge propelled Justin all through high school and now into college.

"Right off as a freshman, just ready to go, volunteering for things right off the bat,” said Shana Sorrels, Justin’s counselor at Van Alstyne High School.

Throughout high school Justin became active in the choir, math and biology clubs. He was also a leader with the Teen Council at the Van Alstyne Public Library. He found a home and mentor there, Judy Spence, and a way to help others.

"Literacy is going down immensely in our nation so I think it should be bumped up, and whatever we can do to get kids in the library,” said Justin.

But even with all of these extra-curricular activities, Justin also started taking dual credit courses at Grayson County College. At first it was just a way to get ahead, but then Justin and his counselor soon realized he could get is Associates Degree. And May 8th, 2010, Justin crossed the stage to receive his degree.

"Whenever I say I'm going to do something, I do it,” said Justin.

Sorrels helped guide him through the tough process, as he took 25 hours one semester to complete his degree on time. But she said all the credit goes to Justin.

"He's the one that made it happen and he's the one that worked through it and did it. He's just awesome,” said Sorrels.

But just like his course work in physics and chemistry wasn't easy, neither was growing up.

"It was hard when my mother died,” said Justin.

At only eight years old his mother was murdered. His mother’s twin sister took Justin in and lovingly raised him as her own.

"When something like this happens you're either going to die or you're going to persevere and move on. And there's probably no really getting over it, and I accept that and I'm persevering,” explained Justin.

Justin said he doesn’t let the loss of his mother bog him down. But he does believe his experiences have helped shape him into the young man he is today.

"He just doesn't let things get him down. Everybody has those moments where you kind of want to give up, you could just see it with him, he wouldn't give up,” said Sorrels.

Justin seems modest about his accomplishments, saying it’s just one more thing he’s succeeded at. But he knows that his family, teachers and mentors are proud, and he likes to think mom is too.

"I think she would be thrilled and I hope she would be. And that's what I believe and I hope and wish that is so,” said Justin.

Justin will walk the stage at Van Alstyne High School on June 4, 2010, to receive his second diploma now. But he’s not slowing down either. Right after graduation Justin starts an internship in Plano that will last through the summer.

And the day after he finishes interning, Justin will head to Austin, TX, to enter the University of Texas as a junior. Justin said he hopes to major in mathematics and chemical engineering with a minor in vocal music.

"He's headed wherever he wants to go, he will be successful and do great things. He’s an amazing young man,” said Sorrels.


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  • by Anonymous on May 25, 2010 at 08:14 PM
    He actually has 67 college credit hours as of now. Awesome achievement.
  • by Mr. X Location: Texoma on May 25, 2010 at 04:02 PM
    The first sentence of this story made me LOL.
  • by VA Resident Location: Van Alstyne on May 25, 2010 at 12:53 PM
    Extremly proud of Justin!! I cut his story out of the Van Alstyne leader and will frame it and put it in my son's room for encouragement. As a 7th grader, he has already earned a HS credit in pre-algebra! VAISD is doing a fine job with their students!
  • by Anonymous on May 25, 2010 at 09:53 AM
    You can tell he's from Texas because he still has all of his teeth. and kxii-i thought this story was an Obituary! ha.
  • by Marie Location: Rockwall on May 25, 2010 at 07:10 AM
    Justin is a huge inspiration to everyone and I want everyone to share his amazing story!
  • by Anonymous on May 25, 2010 at 03:59 AM
    Your Mom is watching you. Congrats on your accomplishment!
  • by Joseph Location: Antlers on May 24, 2010 at 10:25 PM
    you can tell he's from Texas, because in Oklahoma you are allowed a whole 9 hours per semester of college credit. I congratulate him, but with these restrictions on concurrent students in Oklahoma, it makes it rough....especially seeing how you need alot more than 36 hrs to get any sort of associates degree.
  • by FLY on May 24, 2010 at 06:57 PM
    MAJOR Kudos to Justin! If the youth today made even 1/50 the effort that Justin has put forth, the future of our country might not look so grave.
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