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Cibola teen qualifies for national scholarship
Cibola High School senior Sami Ahmed, 17, was recently named a semifinalist in the National Achievement Scholarship Program.
Ahmed was one of 1,600 African-American high school seniors to be named a semifinalist for his score on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) and was the only student from Yuma to receive the honor. 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 felt pretty good that I was the only one to qualify in this region. I think some people aren't aware of this scholarship program,” he said. “My two older sisters both qualified for this too so I was already aware of taking the PSAT and how important it was. Some people think it's just a preliminary test to give you practice for the SAT but it actually offers you some scholarship opportunities if you can score well enough.”
Ahmed said that he will find out in January if he is named a finalist in the competition and from there he has the opportunity to be awarded a scholarship.
He noted however, that because he was named a semifinalist he was offered a $60,000 scholarship to University of Arizona, one of the top schools on his list of campuses to apply to.
“U of A offered me a National Scholar Award of $15,000 per academic year for my undergraduate studies,” he explained. “So that totals up to $60,000 for my four years there if I was to apply... I was already looking at U of A as my top prospect because I want to major in physiology. It's essentially a full ride, so I couldn't turn it down.”
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 all four years of high school and has been involved in the performance band, playing the snare drum and the baritone. Ahmed added that he is also the section leader for the drum line on campus as well.
“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 GPA. “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.”
After graduation, he said that he hopes to apply for medical school. He said that his older sister is currently applying to medical school and his other sister is pursuing her doctorate degree.
Ahmed said that even though he took some courses that were tailored to practicing for the PSAT, he had a lot of help from others in his life to get him to this point.
“...I give most of the credit to my teachers who, in reality, gave me all the skills I needed to do well, and my parents, who were sure to push me and support me in my endeavors.”
Sarah Womer can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.