Congrats to stellar student

Published 7:49 pm Monday, May 28, 2018

Regular readers of the Suffolk News-Herald will notice that the newspaper dedicates a lot of space to recognizing the accomplishments of some of the amazing young people we have in Suffolk.

Stories about these wonderful young people get printed all year long, but they become even more frequent in the spring, as another school year wraps up. This time of year brings reports on students who won prestigious scholarships, coverage of high school graduations and our annual series on Suffolk’s five high school valedictorians, which is publishing on the front page this week. The inside pages, particularly on Sundays, carry multiple mentions of scholarships from community organizations, college students from Suffolk who have made the dean’s list or the president’s list or graduated from college, young people from Suffolk who have graduated basic training or accomplished other milestones in the military, and so on.

One of our stories in Saturday’s edition featured Tatiyahna Blakely, a soon-to-be graduate of Lakeland High School who earned the prestigious Jefferson Scholarship from the University of Virginia.

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The value of the full-ride scholarship will exceed $150,000 and will include room and board, tuition, books, supplies and a stipend for personal expenses. Blakely was one of only 36 students chosen for the honor.

The rigorous selection process included a nomination from her high school guidance counselor, multiple regional interviews, selection from a pool of 50 students from the region and finally a four-day intensive at the university. At the intensive, Blakely and other candidates were asked to write an essay, take a math and logical reasoning test, do an interview, do extemporaneous speaking and attend three formal dinners.

Whew. Talk about stressful. In addition to all of those activities, Blakely also had the chance to sit in on classes and experience the campus, but it seems she handled all of it with ease.

Showing a mark of true maturity, Blakely changed her mind on UVA due to the experience after originally crossing it off her list.

In addition to all of the work needed to quality for this scholarship, Blakely was the only Suffolk Public Schools student this year to graduate with her associate degree from Paul D. Camp Community College before graduating from high school, the result of many hours of hard work and dedication to the Dual Enrollment program. In addition, she is an accomplished ballet dancer with RPM Dance — yet another pursuit that requires unbelievable amounts of dedication.

We congratulate Blakely on her many accomplishments and can’t wait to hear about the great things she will accomplish in her future.