Published: Apr 17, 2012 06:00 PM
Modified: Apr 17, 2012 05:55 PM
Apex High School senior Sarah Pak and Enloe High School senior Cherice Natasha Hughes-Oliver recently were named 2012 National Achievement Scholarship winners by the National Merit Scholarship Corp. They were among 47 students in North Carolina and 800 black high school seniors nationally awarded the scholarship, which will pay for undergraduate study.
Pak, of Apex, and Hughes-Oliver, of Cary, are the only Wake County Public School System students to win the scholarship. They are among the 700 winners of National Achievement $2,500 Scholarships: single-payment scholarships awarded on a regional basis in numbers proportional to the population of black Americans in each geographic region.
The two were among more than 160,000 students nationwide who requested consideration for the scholarship when they took the PSAT as high school juniors.
I didnt do any special preparation for the test, but I had a feeling I did pretty well, said Pak. I was pleasantly surprised when I heard that Id done well.
They received letters that they were semifinalists last fall. To continue in the competition, they had to have a record of consistently high academic performance, recommendations from a high school official and high SAT scores, and each student had to write an essay.
Both said their parents supported and encouraged them. I give a lot of credit to my parents for helping me keep my grades up in my academic courses and helping me fit in extracurriculars, said Hughes-Oliver.
My parents have always been very encouraging; they believe in me, said Pak.
In high school, Pak has attended Young Life and enjoys the schools book club.
Hughes-Oliver has been involved in Enloes Medical Bioscience Academy and the dance department. She is a member of Enloes dance ensemble, the dance program at her church, Watts Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, and is dance captain at Collage Dance Company.
Pak plans to study psychology at Elon University, and Hughes-Oliver will attend the University of Virginia in the fall to study biomedical engineering. Both students are continuing to apply for scholarships to help fund their studies.
Pak and Hughes-Oliver have busy summers ahead: Hughes-Oliver will attend family reunions and vacations and help her family move to Virginia. Before Pak heads to college in the fall, she plans to go on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic to help with vacation Bible school and building projects.