Wesleyan College Student Chosen Winner of National Scholarship Competition
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (May 15, 2019) — The first time Gillian Pritchett was impacted by a drunk driver, she was just eight years old. Unfortunately it wouldn’t be the last time her family would suffer at the hands of a DUI driver.
Pritchett was asleep in the backseat of her mother Kimberly’s car when they were struck head-on by a drunk driver in 2006. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries in the crash. Just two years later, however, her family would be impacted again. Their rental home was badly damaged by a teenage driver who crashed into it when he was under the influence of alcohol.
Three years later, a tragedy. A third drunk driver turned her world upside down. It was the loss of her 22-year-old cousin Tiffany Herman, that changed everything. Indeed, to say that she’s been affected by drunk driving is an understatement. She says the experience “changed my life forever.”
Gillian Leighann Pritchett, 20, who grew up in Warner Robins, Georgia, was among roughly 250 students who entered Johnson Attorneys Group’s “Never Drink and Drive” scholarship spring competition. Students from all across the United States submitted heartfelt essays on topics including how they were affected by a drunk driver or what they might do to put an end to drunk driving.
Our friends at the Southern California branch of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) selected the final winner for the $1,000 scholarship from nine finalists.
We felt that Gillian Leighann Pritchett was the strongest, said Chris Garcia, of MADD Southern California. “Her personal experiences that have impacted her, the courage to share those experiences, and devotion to be involved and be part of change is why we have selected her.”
By entering the Johnson Attorneys Group Never Drink and Drive scholarship competition, Pritchett continues to share her experience and educate others about the devastating impact of drunk driving.
She is going to be a senior in the fall where she is studying Early Childhood Education with a minor in history at Wesleyan College in Georgia. Pritchett plans to teach elementary school children in grades 3 to 5 and eventually get her Master’s Degree in Education. Outside of school, Pritchett was also one of 14 teens selected to serve on MADD’s Georgia Teen Influencer Group and has been a guest speaker at MADD’s Victim’s Impact Panels since 2012. She is the older sister to Brett-Lucas, 11, and her father is Chris Pritchett.
“I didn’t want to be seen as a victim and I didn’t want Tiffany’s death to be in vain,” Pritchett said in her essay. “Tiffany was always helping people, so I took a stand. At age 13, I partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and began speaking to Victims Impact Panels about my experiences, in hope that I could make a difference.”
“I am no longer a victim of a drunk driver,” Pritchett said. “I have learned the joys of serving my community and putting others’ needs above my own in hopes that even if I just reach one person, perhaps I can save a life, and I can make a difference.”
If you would like to enter our fall “Never Drink and Drive” $1,000 scholarship competition, please do so before the deadline on September 30th.