I am APS is a special series highlighting students, faculty, alumni, and others in celebration of the rich and diverse experiences, backgrounds and contributions within the Atlanta Public Schools family. Together, we stand in solidarity of our shared admiration of APS and the mission which guides us. #IamAPS
Caydence Walker is a Class of 2024 graduating senior at Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy. Photo: Allison M. Slocum
If you have ever met a current student or graduate of Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy (CSKYWLA), chances are you left that encounter impressed. The poise of its students exhibit the empowering and impactful legacy of the school’s namesake. Despite their modest population, they are well known the within the Atlanta Public Schools district.
Caydence Walker, a promising CSKYWLA senior, knows that education in her family is a legacy that she is proud to shoulder. With a rising 3.81 GPA and ranking of seventh in her senior class, Walker is building upon a legacy that her great, great, great grandmother started generations ago at a time when literacy often equaled a death sentence for African Americans.
We sat down with Walker to learn about her experience as a CSKYWLA student and her future plans to be an advocate for others.
Caydence Walker plans to attend the University of Alabama and major in philosophy of law or political science. Photo: Allison M. Slocum
CSKYWLA’s Class of 2024 graduating senior, rising University of Alabama freshman, and future lawyer.
What do you like about being a student at CSKYWLA?
This school is very structured. We have a uniform policy to follow, which I think will really help us in the real world and when we get to the corporate world where you have to follow actual rules. I love that it’s very gender inclusive. So yes, we’re all females, but they cater to LGBTQ people and it’s very inclusive. I really like that, and I love the academic part of it. I feel like when I leave here, I’ll be really prepared to enter college. They provide many AP classes, dual enrollment options, and online options, I really enjoy that aspect of it.
Do you have a favorite subject?
I really love writing and the amount of essays we are assigned. [Recently] in our class, we were talking about feminism. We wrote an essay on that and talked about feminists throughout the generations. 19th century, modern, mid-century— I think it’s really helped me to turn on my critical thinking skills, open my mind, and try to figure out what these people were thinking back then when women didn’t have a voice and they were trying to find a path for us, our generation, right now.
Have you thought about what you want to be when you grow up?
Yes. I’ve been thinking about this since I was 10 years old. I really want to become an attorney. Either corporate law or entertainment law. Those are really interesting to me right now. When I go to college I want to major in either philosophy of law or political science, join a pre-law program at that school, and then make my way to law school and become an attorney.
Do you feel your school is giving you the tools you need to prepare for a career in law?
Definitely. We had a college fair and they have these opportunities for us a lot. We also have a college advisor. Her name is Ms. Wimberley, and you can sit down with her on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and she’ll help you find scholarships. Coca-Cola, Gates Millennium— she’ll help you with all of that. She will set up your Common App for you, your Black College Common App, and she actually really helps us. Also, [the school] will give us pamphlets, or they will bring people to the school to tell us about these opportunities to make sure we have a college when we end the school year. So that’s what I really appreciate.
What lesson stands out to you that really made an impact?
I think one in particular which helped me get interested in history was learning about the civil rights movement and slavery. That really connected with me because I just learned this last year that my great, great, great grandmother was a slave and she wrote in her diary about the experiences, and I got a chance to read it. So when I got to learn about civil rights and slavery, it really connected with me because I was like, oh, my grandma was there. I really, really loved learning about African American studies and ethnic studies. I’m interested in that.
How are you carrying on that legacy through your family?
I feel like going to college is going to be carrying on that legacy. My mom went to college, my dad went to college. My great, great, great grandmother literally learned how to write. She could have risked being killed learning how to read and write. I feel like I’m carrying that on, becoming an attorney, fighting for other people’s rights.
CSKYWLA seniors, Shataira Hightower and Caydence Walker, have been chosen to represent their school as I am APS spotlights. Photo: Allison M. Slocum.