Cibola High School senior Sami Ahmed, 17, is a finalist in the National Achievement Scholarship Program.
After being named a semifinalist in September, it was recently announced that Ahmed will be awarded $2,500 for his achievement and that he was one of 800 African-American high school seniors to receive the honor in the U.S.
He initially was the only student from Yuma to be chosen as a semifinalist for his score on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). He was then asked to submit an essay and a letter of recommendation from an official on campus and was also required to be in good standing and have a record of high academic performance in school and on the SAT exam.
More than 160,000 students nationally requested to be considered for the 2013 National Achievement Scholarship Program when they took the PSAT/NMSQT exam.
“I am extremely grateful of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation for this recognition,” said Ahmed. “I am still in astonishment for being named a finalist out of a very extensive pool of potential winners, all of whom are very distinguished and capable to receive such an esteemed achievement.
He explained that after being recognized as a finalist, he was offered a $60,000 scholarship to the University of Arizona, one of the top schools on his list of campuses.
“The money that this scholarship offers is generous, and thanks to this organization, the amount of money is amplified through college acknowledgement,” said Ahmed. “The money is definitely a boon, and I'm sure that it made my parents that much happier.”
He was awarded the National Scholar Award from the UA, which pays for $15,000 per academic year of his undergraduate studies and where he plans to major in physiology.
“It's essentially a full ride, so I couldn't turn it down,” he said.
Ahmed has volunteered at Yuma Regional Medical Center and the Yuma County Library District since his sophomore year of high school. He has also been on the varsity tennis team for three years and was involved in the performance band, playing the snare drum and the baritone. Ahmed is also the section leader for the drum line on campus.
“It's pretty hard to balance these sort of things, but I feel that if I get involved as much as I can, I actually have a motivation to do better in my studies,” said Ahmed, who has a 4.32 weighted grade-point average.
“I feel like if I was just doing just academics, I would go crazy, so it's nice to have some hobbies and breaks from just studying all the time.”
Ahmed said that in the future, he hopes to apply to medical school. He said his older sister is starting medical school in the fall and his other sister is currently pursuing her doctorate degree.
Sarah Womer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.