High School Graduate Defies the Odds and Excels Academically

On April 25, Ivy D’vynne Wicks spoke at First Assembly Christian School on the Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society. She is president of the local chapter. Also on that day, Wicks was inducted into the Mu Alpha Theta National Mathematics Honor Society. Photo by Dr. Sharli K. Adair

By Wiley Henry

MEMPHIS, TN — More than $511,000 in scholarship offers from 11 colleges is quite an accomplishment for a high school graduate who was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) when she was two years old.

When Ivi D’vynne Wicks graduates from First Assembly Christian School on May 18, she will head to Oglethorpe University in Brookhaven, Ga., in August on a full academic scholarship to study pre-med and theater – or filmmaking, perhaps.  

But Wicks’ academic prowess may not have been possible if her mother, Dr. Sharli K. Adair, hadn’t stepped in and taken control after noticing that her school-age daughter at that time was becoming “extremely ADHD.” 

Dr. Sharli K. Adair gives Ivi D’vynne Wicks a congratulatory hug and flowers after Wicks was presented with the International Thespian Award after her last production at First Assembly Christian School. She played Mrs. Gloop in the Willie Wonka play. Courtesy photo

The doctors wanted to prescribe medication to control Wicks’ impulsive behavior, but Adair wouldn’t entertain the thought of medicating her daughter or subjecting her to a stimulant. 

 “I realized the medicine was a deterrent; it only slows you down. And Ivi was too young,” said Adair, who had other plans to try to bring her daughter’s behavior under subjection. 

ADHD is a disorder with ongoing symptoms of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. Stimulants are generally prescribed to reduce the symptoms and improve behavior.

Adair wasn’t buying any of it. So she turned to God, prayed daily, controlled Wicks’ environment, worked on her study habits, turned to family for support, and surrounded her daughter with role models.

Wicks wasn’t aware that ADHD had invaded her body. “I didn’t know that I suffered from it until I was 14 years old,” she said. “When I found out about it, I just said, ‘Wow!’”

To understand how Wicks could brush off ADHD so easily, you’d have to understand her mother’s tenacity, her grandmother’s fearlessness, and the village concept that they embraced to help raise young Wicks. 

“When Ivi had a temper tantrum at two, my mom called it out,” Adair remembers. “She told me to open the door because Satan is leaving today. She had oil in her hands and anointed Ivy. Then she said, ‘Leave, Satan! You will not take this child.’”

The late Dorothy J. Marlow was a praying, God-fearing woman since Adair, a single, working mother, could remember. After the birth of Wicks 18 years ago, she moved her mother into her home. The arrangement was a godsend.

“I always looked up to my grandmother,” said Wicks, cherishing the matriarch’s wisdom and her elder status. “She was another mother figure in my life. She taught me to be strong and taught me how to pray.”

Her mother, she pointed out, worked all the time to provide a comfortable living. But that didn’t preclude Adair from tending to Wicks’ needs and developing a moral code that her daughter should live by. 

“She represents Christ first,” said Adair, noting that no one should be afraid to raise a child in the spirit of holiness. “I tried to live a life that would make her make the right decision.” 

On top of that, she added: “I made sure that I parented my child.”

With Adair and her mother working in tandem to stop ADHD from causing chaos in Wicks’ life, the path to a good education hasn’t gone unnoticed. In fact, Wicks has excelled in school in spite of the disorder.

 “In sixth-grade, they wanted to put her up in the eighth grade. But socially she wasn’t ready. Her behavior was not on an eighth grade level,” Adair surmised. She said her daughter would have missed the transition from elementary to middle school.

Wicks, however, hasn’t missed a step academically since Adair first enrolled her in grade school – not that she hasn’t struggled some along the way. In fact, Adair said Wicks has maintained a 4.5 GPA and above since ninth-grade.

ADHD isn’t as noticeable now since Wicks is able to channel the disorder in the right direction or use it to propel her aspirations. “When I get really excited, I get anxious,” she explains. “I have a million things on my mind. So it fuels my creativity.” 

Wicks also sees ADHD as a blessing. It didn’t hamper her studies or cloud her thinking either. 

“I think of things that I can do for the future,” she said, such as drawing, writing music, singing, performing on the stage and, believe it or not, developing business plans. She also is the recipient of several awards, honors and citations.

Wicks’ math teacher at FACS thinks the world of her. “Ivy is a top-notch student, a hard worker, and she’s diligent,” said Marcia Coleman, who has taught Wicks math since the eighth grade.

“She’s in the highest math level that we have in school,” she said. “She’s certainly a young lady with extreme high character and strong morals and integrity. I wish I could package her up and multiply her by 140.”

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