Amberleigh Dryman was 14 when she visited Morocco with her mom. Growing up in Greer, South Carolina, she was around all kinds of animals, from dogs to ducks, but it was in Casablanca where she took a carriage ride that drove her toward her future.
“The horse we were riding behind actually collapsed,” the Converse senior recalls. “Nobody was hurt, but obviously the horse didn’t survive. There was nothing we could do for it. I knew there was nothing they would do, and I decided right then that I could make up for not being able to help that one animal by helping other animals.”
This spring, Dryman, 21, graduates with a bachelor’s of science in biology and a minor in history. She earned it in just three years, having collected 64 college credits at Greer Middle College Charter High School.
Her numerous jobs include: Spartanburg Science Center; Cleveland Park Animal Hospital in Greenville; and Converse’s Mickel Library. She also created her senior-year January Term experience, a three-week trip to Thailand to work with elephants. “I’m kind of an insomniac,” she says, “but I’m good at adaptation.”
“I learned more at Converse about independence and living my own life. Going in, I was really unsure of myself, but Converse taught me to take hold of my own life and my own choices.”
While Dryman has traveled to at least as many countries as her age, Converse has been the trip of a lifetime. “I learned more at Converse about independence and living my own life. Going in, I was really unsure of myself, but Converse taught me to take hold of my own life and my own choices.”
She even chose to endure three rigorous interrogations to prepare for an entrance interview with London’s Royal Veterinary College, where she was recently accepted.
“Amberleigh is the only student who asked for more than one mock interview,” says Cathy Gowan, Converse’s Director of Internships and Corporate Relations. “She has taken advantage of every opportunity and has adapted it to help her pursue her dream.”
The Royal College interview proved unexpectedly brutal. Ten stations with five-minute challenges included one where she had to instruct an interviewer how to build something with Legos without using any illustrations; in another, she had to interview the interviewer about why he should attend the college.
She has faced obstacles considerably more difficult than those. When she was 13, her father died of cancer. “Amberleigh has known adversity and has used this to encourage herself to reach her full potential,” Gowan says.
Leslie West, Director of Professional Development and Career Services, agrees: “She radiates eloquent confidence and continually challenges herself through academics, involvements, and giving back to the community. Her zest and purpose for life is contagious.”
While Dryman plans to work primarily with farm animals one day, she’s also rolling toward yet another goal. Inspired by the Coen brothers’ classic, The Big Lebowski, she finds spare time to strike up a bowling league.
To crib from the film: Amberleigh abides.