Hannah Reilley earned the DAR Good Citizens Award from the Bluffton-based Emily Geiger Chapter.
Hannah Reilley was not born a United States citizen, but the Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School Class of 2021 valedictorian has proven to be a perfect example of a good citizen of her community and this nation.
Born in Ethiopia, Reilley was adopted at the age of 6, along with her younger biological sister, Candace, by Deanna-Lyn and Dennis Reilley of Ridgeland.
“It was actually July 4 of 2008 that we were officially adopted,” Hannah said. “Which is really cool because it’s Independence Day.
… I love it.”
Hannah was the class president her junior and senior years of high school. She was a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps Junior ROTC program. She was part of the Drone Pilot Program and was a Palmetto Girls State delegate. She volunteered at a local retirement home, at the Morris Center for Lowcountry Heritage and at her school.
Because of her hard work in school and her ongoing community service, Hannah received the DAR Good Citizens Award from the Blufftonbased Emily Geiger Chapter of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution. The award came with $50.
According to the DAR website, the Good Citizens Award “recognizes and rewards individuals who possess the qualities of dependability, service, leadership, and patriotism in their homes, schools, and communities.” The Good Citizens Award is given to high school seniors. Only one student per year at each school may receive the award.
RHHS assistant principal Kerry Singleton wrote a letter of recommendation to DAR on Hannah’s behalf, lauding her academic abilities. “She is a well-rounded student with morals, values and respect,” Singleton wrote.
Hannah said she felt honored to receive the award, and she hopes she inspires others to be good citizens.
Hannah earned several scholarships, including $2,500 in the American Legion Oratorical Contest, $2,500 from the Hilton Head Area Home Builders Association and $40,000 when she was named a Senator Pinckney Scholar through the Coastal Community Foundation.
Now 19, Hannah is a freshman at Clemson University majoring in business management and minoring in political science. In her free time Hannah enjoys sewing, and she loves to cook and bake vegetarian and vegan dishes. She considers herself a vegan but admits she does eat ice cream from time to time.
After college, she hopes to own her own business, although she’s not sure yet what type of business. She would also love to one day be a diplomat to Ethiopia or another country.
“That is my dream — to represent another country to America,” Hannah said. “I feel like I’m here for a reason in a country where I can get an education, in a country where I’m free to be whatever I want to be. And I want to help other people in other countries that want the same thing.”
Hannah is thankful to the people of Ethiopia for taking care of her and her sister in the orphanage and for allowing them to be adopted. “Thank you for giving me up so I can have an opportunity in the greatest country on Earth to have a future so that I can help other people,” Hannah said. “I think God has a purpose for me, and I’m going to do my best here with the opportunities God has given me. And I’ll be back one day.”