Brielle Duff

Sequoia Pathway Academy salutatorian Brielle Duff is heading to Western Kentucky University in the fall to study vocal performance.

MARICOPA — Brielle Duff wasn’t sure she’d be able to become salutatorian at Sequoia Pathway Academy, but after four years of hard work she managed to secure the title.

For one thing, Duff hadn’t attended Pathway for all four years, something she was worried would be a problem.

“At the school that I came from, I wasn’t able to be a salutatorian because I hadn’t attended all four years, and I didn’t realize that if you switch schools that it still counted,” Duff said. “I thought that I had lost my chance because I hadn’t attended a school for four years straight.”

Originally from Kentucky, Duff went to school until eighth grade before turning to homeschooling for her high school experience.

While being homeschooled in Kentucky, she was a part of a Christian school. She participated in bible quizzes with other homeschooled kids and attended state competitions for fine arts and academics.

She then made the transition to Maricopa with her dad, where she enrolled in Sequoia Pathway for her senior year. At Pathway, she was able to rediscover some of her passions including her love of music and vocal performance.

“I enjoyed my last year of high school, even though it was cut short,” Duff said. “I really enjoyed the concerts that we did at Sequoia. When I was in the band class, we did different performances in the gym.”

Duff plays the piano and guitar, and is also an accomplished singer. She says it was tough to be homeschooled at times because she wasn’t able to do as much work with music as she wanted to.

“When you’re in homeschool, you can’t really do a lot of (work) with music unless you’re doing it on your own. You don’t actually have teachers doing (music),” Duff said. “So when I came to Sequoia, I was able to attend two different music classes. It helped a lot because I’m going into that career, so it helped prepare me for college.”

Duff returned to Kentucky for spring break, but after COVID-19 effectively ended in-person schooling during the break period, she decided to stay and complete her studies with her family. Duff has ten older sisters, and two younger siblings too, making her one of 13 kids.

She has already made plans to attend Western Kentucky University for vocal performance, and will stay with her sister while she goes to college.


Katie Sawyer covers Maricopa and the surrounding area for PinalCentral, including city, education, business, crime and more. She can be reached at