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Student overcomes obstacles to succeed
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Allyson Puckett is a 17-year-old architecture student at the University of Florida.
TREASURE ISLAND – A 17-year-old Treasure Island student is solid proof that children can overcome obstacles in life with hard work and dedication.

Allyson Raynelle Puckett was born at Bayfront Hospital in July of 1966. A week after she came home, she was admitted to All Children’s Hospital and diagnosed with a hole in her heart and a defective valve. At age 2, she had open-heart surgery by Dr. Jeff Jacobs at All Children’s.

Allyson later attended the Cathedral School of St. Jude’s, pre-K to seventh-grade; and attended Admiral Farragut Academy from eighth grade until her early graduation in December.

While at Admiral Farragut, she discovered a passion for photography and architecture. That led to a decision to start preparing for her future by enrolling at St. Petersburg College as a dual-enrollment student between her freshman and sophomore years at AFA. Puckett was so determined, she took college placement tests three times so she could begin college classes immediately.

While several students in Pinellas County choose to attend college classes early, most don’t start until their junior years in high school.

Puckett, however, did it on a fast path. On May 13, she graduated from SPC and was scheduled to walk with her high school class on May 17. But she missed both because she was already enrolled as a junior for classes at the University of Florida’s College of Architecture.

While it would be easy to think Allyson is naturally gifted and academics come easy, that’s not the case, according to her dad, David Puckett. She struggles with standardized tests, he said, and has put countless hours into her math and science classes in order to pass.

All of the hard work has paid off.

If her accomplishments thus far are not enough to demonstrate her work ethic, there was more. She also held a part-time job at the Treasure Island Publix store that she started shortly after her 14th birthday. Additionally, she worked part time this past year for the St. Pete Beach architectural firm Harvard Jolly. She has also had some of her photographs published in the Tampa Bay Times.

At Admiral Farragut, Puckett lettered five years in soccer and three years on the girls swim team, which she captained her senior year. She also performed volunteer work at various places, such as the Science Center of Pinellas County and has supported events at All Children’s Hospital that benefit the pediatric cardiac unit.

Most recently, Allyson returned from a trip to Europe paid for in part from her part-time jobs.

She plans to continue working at the Publix store in Gainesville.
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