High School Student National Merit Scholarship Contender

Jamira Cotton is a typical high school senior, but her status as a contender for a national achievement scholarship and other awards sets her apart.

"I also qualify for a commended scholar for the National Merit Scholarship program and that includes all students of every race that took the test," says Jamira.

Out of 120,000 black students who applied for the achievement scholarship program, only 1,600 are still in the running. In the end, only 775 will receive a scholarship. It's based on SAT scores, grades and teacher recommendations.

"I'm so happy that my hard work paid off and that my prayers were answered," says Jamira. Hard work and prayers are exactly the two things Jamira says help her reach every goal. She says she prays before she studies and takes tests.  "I know that myself I'm only human and there's certain things that I'm just simply not capable of and I need god to help me achieve the goals I have in mind because I definitely can't do it on my own."

Her goals now extend beyond high school.  She's already thinking about becoming a doctor, so Jamira now focuses on college. "I'm applying to seven schools and I can see myself at all of them but my top 4 choices are Rice Univeristy, Spellman college in Atlanta, Washington University and M.I.T. because I did a summer program there and really liked it."

Jamira says through hard work and a clear focus on your goals any achievement is possible.

Amy Tatum reporting.