The Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School 2014 graduate’s most recent accomplishment is being named 2013-14 national leader of the year by Girl Talk Inc. It is the highest honor bestowed by the international, Buckhead-based nonprofit — a peer-to-peer mentoring program in which high school girls helping their middle school counterparts with issues the latter face.
Abernathy downplayed the accolade while offering praise to the cause behind it.
“It’s so important to reach out to kids a little bit younger because they are going through what we might have just gone through,” the 18-year-old said. “Because we’re so close in age, they do look up to us … but they don’t have to make the same kind of mistakes.”
The teenager earned a similar honor from Girl Talk two years ago for her crafting and execution of a passion project deeply rooted in personal sorrow.
Abernathy coordinated a non-violence seminar for dozens of students at Woodland Middle School in East Point — many of them surrounded by gang activity or violence at home. She was spurred to action after a teenage cousin was gunned down in fall 2012.
“I just thought about it a lot and I realized that incident really affected me, my family and my ability to focus on school at the time,” Abernathy said.
Using some contacts she had, Abernathy recruited officers from the East Point Police Department and a few luminaries to help bring her message home.
“I shared my story to connect with [middle-schoolers]. … A lot of them were really invested in the seminar.”
As her crowded trophy case indicates, Abernathy’s efforts have hardly gone unnoticed.
“We are truly honored that outstanding girls like Amber are leading our chapters,” said Haley Kilpatrick, Girl Talk’s founder and executive director. “I am confident that her story will inspire other high school girls all over the country to start chapters in their own communities.”
Abernathy, her prep career behind her, is on the verge of embarking on a new chapter in her life.
She will next head to Brandeis University, where she plans to major in both international and global studies and business. A four-year, full-tuition scholarship courtesy of the Posse Foundation will help light her path there.
“Amber embraces everything our hopes are for the Girl Talk journey,” Kilpatrick said. “She truly exudes the qualities Girl Talk is about and she has also humbly shared her evolution all the way from a shy girl to a leader.
“[Amber] says that Girl Talk helped her find her voice. She was the quiet girl who learned so much about the power of leadership and service.”