By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Don’t let the last name fool ya.
Millington Central High School senior Elizabeth Germany has Cajun blood pumping through her veins. With her family originating from Louisiana, the 2017 MCHS Valedictorian likes her food spicy and success in the classroom among the best.
With multiple stories of achievement within her own household, Germany was motivated from the day she stepped foot on the Millington campus to be No. 1 come May 2017.
“It was sort expected,” she acknowledged. “I’ve been No. 1 in our class since freshman year. I didn’t take a lot of AP classes this year. It was a little bit up in the air. I just maintained it by taking one AP class to help maintain it.
“I don’t know how I did it looking back,” she continued. “Just my junior year, it was all-nighters consistently.”
Germany faced a junior year of challenges being involved with Lady Trojan Soccer, other activities and taking on courses like AP History, AP English, Pre-Cal Honors, Honors Physics and starting Yearbook.
There to encourage her was her father Ned. Elizabeth not only used her Dad’s words and tricks of motivation to drive her, but she also remembered his humbled beginnings leading to him becoming a lawyer.
“My Dad has a double cleft palate,” she said. “It affects his sight, so he’s like legally blind. But he’s gotten better to where he can drive now. He couldn’t get his license until he was 30. Growing up with that, he faced that adversity. I didn’t have to face that adversity.
“He couldn’t see,” Elizabeth added. “And he became a lawyer. He couldn’t see the board. And he grew up with that adversity and overcame that. I didn’t face that. I feel so fortunate. He showed me you don’t have any excuses.”
With that hidden motivation, Elizabeth set a course at Millington that would involve academics, arts and athletics. She played three years of soccer for the Lady Trojans.
“Sports gave me exposure,” she said. “I started my sophomore year. It gave me exposure to older people, other students and I made friends with seniors. It just helped me grow a lot as a person and get that experience. It helped me get that leadership from a younger age.”
Soccer allowed Germany to make new friends and see the school in a wider prospective. She joined Yearbook eventually becoming editor this year.
While Soccer exposed her to the school, it did make her staying No. 1 in the class tougher.
“It’s always been like a rocky start at the beginning of the year with Soccer,” She acknowledged. It’s just pulling it together and by the end of the semester having it all come together.
“I figured since I worked so hard my junior year, I would relax a little bit more my senior year by taking just one AP class,” Germany added. ‘That was my plan the whole time.”
That plan allowed her to have time for the Millington Choir and reaching Carnegie Hall in New York City.
“I want to set here and tell you New York was like the most amazing thing ever,” she said. “But the most amazing part was the musical experience. It was so amazing. Carnegie Hall is so beautiful. It’s gold, white and very textured. Everything there is so beautiful. It’s so beautiful but the best view is from the stage.”
Germany said being a part of the National Youth Choir and performing a piece composed by Andre Thomas on the historic stage is an all-time moment for a girl from the South.
Coming from Louisiana and growing up in Millington, Germany soaked in all the lessons she could from family, friends and teachers.
“In middle school my teachers really scared me,” she recalled. “’Oh my God, high school is going to be so hard.’ Then I got here and it wasn’t that hard. But I was still sort of scared. I worked super hard.
“My older step-sister went to a private school for her senior year at Lausanne,” Germany added. “She moved up from Long Beach, Miss. She was always a straight A student. Also my younger step-sister, I’m very competitive, so I like to outdo people. I just wanted to be on that level.”
In her home raised by Ned and her stepmother Tiffany, Elizabeth shined among siblings Olivia and Jack and stepsisters Brittany and Lauren McDonald.
When it came time for vacations, Elizabeth was excited for trips down to Cajun Country just for the traditional dishes.
“I like seasoned food,” she declared. “Crawfish isn’t crawfish unless it’s from Louisiana. They have places designated to crawfish in Louisiana. They don’t have that here.
“I grew up with tales like Little Red Riding Hood with the wolf being an alligator,” she added. “We are close knit. My parents got married right before I went to high school. That influenced me with my step-sisters helping me with my summer work before I even got to high school.”
With several people impacting her achievement of being No. 1 in the class, Elizabeth said she has a clear top contributor on a daily basis.
“With him being a lawyer, you can’t win an argument with my Dad,” she said. “I’m the daughter of a lawyer, so we got at it. But you can’t win an argument with a lawyer. You just can’t do it.
“For my family it’s a big deal,” Germany continued. “I’ve always told my Dad from the beginning of the year, ‘If I can’t do it, don’t be disappointed in me because there are a couple of people real close.’”
Ned had confidence in his daughter and used reverse phycology to keep her on her toes.
“I had been No. 1 since freshman year,” she recalled. “I got it like the first semester and he was like, ‘Only 9 more semesters to do.’ I realized then there were expectations. What have I done? I just kept on going every semester and kept it. It’s a big accomplishment.
“You just keep moving on in my family,” Germany added. “It just doesn’t stop here. Now I have to go to college. You keep on succeeding basically”
Next step for Elizabeth is heading to UT-Knoxville to study to become a doctor.
Elizabeth has carved out a piece of family and MCHS golden legacy. And like the folks down in Louisiana, she wants to “Let the Good Time Rolls.” The lesson she learned from her Dad on how to do that is set no limits.
“Even when I didn’t believe in myself or didn’t think I could do it, my Dad never stopped believing in me,” she concluded. “He always knew I could do it. He made me believe there is no limit. Limits are basically self-imposed. You do the best you can do.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.