Talladega College Valedictorian Excelled Even While Battling Covid-19

Amber Ellington

Talladega College’s Class of 2021 valedictorian Amber Ellington completed her senior year online after COVID-19 struck her entire household. The determined biology major, who will graduate summa cum laude on Saturday morning, lives in a multigenerational home that includes her grandmother and her great-grandmother.

“My entire family contracted Covid-19 in September.  Fortunately, I was able to take my classes online, but I was so tired that it was difficult to focus,” said Amber.  “My great-grandmother had to be hospitalized, and my grandmother was too weak to stand.”

“I decided to complete both semesters of my senior year online, which was extremely difficult because I find it much easier to learn in a classroom setting,” Amber said.  “But I feel grateful and proud of myself for pushing through and completing my degree despite these obstacles.”

Working primarily from home, she conducted extensive research on the structural analysis of coronaviral macrodomains: SARS-CoV, HKU9-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2 with Talladega College’s Chemistry Department Chair Dr. Pamela  Brady.

Prior to the pandemic, Amber was active in many campus organizations including the Pre-Med Society, Biology Club, Ronald E. McNair Scholars
Program, Presidential Honor Society, Alpha Chi, and Beta, Beta, Beta Honor Society.

Amber is a recipient of numerous scholarship awards, including the Chapman-Jones Memorial Scholarship, Anthony Luizzi Memorial Scholarship, CIC UPS Scholarship, Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation Scholarship, Daniel Hand Foundation Scholarship, United Church of Christ Scholarship, and
Provost’s Scholarship.

Amber is now focused on studying for the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test). She aspires to earn a Ph.D. and a M.D. simultaneously. Talladega’s 146th commencement ceremony was live-streamed on Saturday, May 1, 2021, on the College’s website.

Talladega College, Alabama’s first private historically black college, is consistently ranked among the best southeastern colleges and top HBCUs in the nation. It was founded in 1867 by two former slaves, William Savery and Thomas Tarrant, and is the home of the renowned Hale Woodruff Amistad Murals.