By PRISCILLA GREEAR, Special To The Bulletin | Published June 20, 2013
PEACHTREE CITY—Tori Kinamon vividly remembers preparing for her first day at McIntosh High School in Peachtree City after graduating from Our Lady of Victory School in Tyrone. Anxious about beginning at a secular high school, she attended the Life Teen Mass at Holy Trinity Church and prayed deeply for the Lord to carry her through.
“I was terrified and I prayed I’d be able to get through high school. I was so nervous about entering a public school after being in a Catholic school my whole life,” she recalled.
But she found her stride and was comforted to find that many students were also members of Holy Trinity, located next door to McIntosh. And with an abiding sense of God’s presence, she went on to graduate in May as salutatorian. The daughter of Kari and Chuck Kinamon, she will attend Brown University in Providence, R.I., where she was also signed to compete on its gymnastics team.
“By praying every night and saying the rosary on my own, I feel like I have continued to strengthen my relationship with God,” she said. “When I achieve something it’s going to be for his glory. He’s given me the resources I needed to succeed. He’s been there through the hard times and when I’ve received exciting news.”
In high school she served as community service chair of the National Honor Society, yearbook editor and co-president of the Beta Club. Kinamon also founded and served as president of the McIntosh chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions after a tragedy occurred involving student drug abuse. She never felt pressured to use alcohol or drugs and emphasizes that “McIntosh provides an incredibly safe environment.”
Nevertheless, “drugs and alcohol are a problem at most high schools, and you don’t realize that until something tragic happens,” she said. “It’s to encourage a positive peer influence in our community.”
Shery Kearney, her AP English teacher, served as chapter sponsor and recalled how Kinamon got many to join and remain substance free, even during homecoming activities.
“Tori’s theory was that students who did not use drugs and alcohol were afraid to stand up and admit it because it was perceived as a social stigma,” she said. “I have been able to see Tori’s leadership at work, gaining the respect of her senior classmates as well as the younger students who will carry on the organization.”
Kearney also praised her accomplishments in having won “awards in almost every discipline from math to science to Latin” and for service—plus being a homecoming princess and star gymnast. Yet “her humility is extraordinary; her compassion legion.”
Kinamon’s parents have always helped her to choose the narrow path, she said, and it has been a joy to attend class with her twin brother, Derek.
“My parents worked so hard and sacrificed so much for me and my brothers to give us so many opportunities. I feel I owe it to myself and to them to just be the best I can be. I wanted to get all I could out of my high school, and I wanted to get into a really good school to become a doctor,” she said.
Among those opportunities, she started taking gymnastics when she was 4 and practiced four hours a day through high school. She’s doing moves she never thought she could. She has also endured much pain and discouragement.
“It has really pushed me to my mental, physical and emotional limits. … And it took a lot of self-discipline to stick it out all these years. I’ve definitely sacrificed a lot,” said Kinamon. “I put my faith in God to lead me down the right path, and he’s given me the opportunity to do that in college.”
Last summer she experienced a fractured back. The compassionate care she received from “awesome” doctors at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta inspired her to enter a premed track at Brown to become a physician specializing in sports medicine.
“I’ve been really touched by all the doctors who worked with me to get me back. They were really enthusiastic and had positive attitudes,” Kinamon said.
As she begins anew at Brown, she will trust God to continue to guide her as he did through McIntosh.
“In this world there is a lot going on, and it’s good to have something to keep you going and to know the Lord is always supporting you and is going to love you … no matter what happens,” she said. “A quote I live by is that I think ‘with God all things are possible.’ That kind of sums up my outlook on most things.”