NRHS valedictorian has sights set high

Published 10:20 pm Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nansemond River High 2012 valedictorian Ernestine Powell celebrates her achievement with mother Alice Powell. Mother and daughter both agree the honor recognizes the hard work Ernestine has done.

Nansemond River High School’s 2012 valedictorian has her sights set high and believes the accomplishment recognizes a lot of hard work and dedication to academic success.

Being named valedictorian of her school is “an accomplishment and an honor, because I feel like my hard work has been recognized,” Ernestine Powell said.

She said she knew she was in the running for valedictorian, but was still surprised by the news. Her class had “a general idea of the ranking, but we weren’t sure.”


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Powell took enough college classes in her senior year to earn an associate degree in general studies. “This is the first time Nansemond River High has actually had someone graduate with an associate degree,” she said.

She said Advanced Placement government was her favorite subject.

“I like how the class was run. It was very similar to a college course, and I liked some of the discussions we had, ” she said.

Powell is preparing to attend Christopher Newport University in the fall, where she will study biology with an emphasis on pre-medicine.

She has also been selected for CNU’s President’s Leadership Program, which she says will allow her to minor in leadership.

Powell had to interview for the appointment and considers being selected an achievement in its own right.

Powell is also considering another minor in Spanish, not wanting to lose the valuable foreign language skills she has worked hard to obtain.

“I have taken several Spanish classes, so I would like to maintain fluency to a degree,” she said.

Powell’s ultimate goal is to work as a cardiologist. Her mother, Alice Powell, is a registered nurse. “We’re (with husband Ernest Powell) really proud of her,” Alice Powell said.

“We feel like she’s worked very hard. What she’s learned through school is going to help her be successful at college, because she likes to follow things through. She doesn’t like to leave things incomplete.”

With her associate degree, Powell will be considered a junior when she starts at CNU. “I will still have to complete some classes,” she said, adding that she has also earned enough credits to receive a general education certification.

Powell’s other interests include tang soo do, a martial art she says is similar to tae kwon do, and the oboe.

She volunteers at a children’s hospice and wants to continue volunteering in the community.

She thanked various educators and other staff at Nansemond River and The Pruden Center.

“They were all very helpful along the way,” Alice Powell said.