T.J. McGinnis, a senior Shelby County High School, has dreams of serving his hometown community by working in law enforcement. His mentor is his aunt, Sgt. Sasha Lilly Knighten.
McGinnis showed promise with his extracurricular and sports involvement, and helped the community by volunteering to serve lunches during the pandemic. Soon, he will be attending Jacksonville State University on $11,000 of scholarships in his first step towards a law enforcement career, and plans to study forensic science in the hopes of becoming a forensic investigator.
First and foremost, however, it is his love for the community that inspires him. “Columbiana is like one great big family,” he said. “When there is trouble, everyone leans on each other and that’s what makes it special.”
Under the guidance of his aunt, McGinnis is trying to mentor younger kids as well.
“It was really great to have the chance to give kids a heads up on what to expect in high school and middle school, and encourage the kids to be themselves and not work too hard to be who they aren’t in order to fit in,” McGinnis said.
McGinnis is a member of the basketball team and even assisted his coach this year during his injury early in the season. He’s also been involved in his church and tutors other students in math all while maintaining a grade point average that has helped him secure nine scholarships.
His school counselor, Ms. Keahey shared with the Shelby County Reporter, “T.J. is a wonderful, well rounded young man with the ability to light up a room with his positive attitude. He is one of the most responsible, respectful, and trustworthy students I have had the pleasure of knowing.”