09/28/13 — WCDS student a semifinalist for prestigious scholarship

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WCDS student a semifinalist for prestigious scholarship

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 28, 2013 10:34 PM

A student leader at Wayne Country Day School has been named a semifinalist in the 2014 National Achievement Scholarship program, determined by scores on the 2012 PSAT test.

More than 160,000 high school juniors from all over the United States requested consideration when they took the preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying test. From those, about 1,600 black American high school seniors have received the semifinalist designation and will continue in the competition for approximately 800 achievement scholarship awards worth about $2.5 million that will be offered next spring.

Karis Hawkins is the only semifinalist from Wayne County and the first representative from Wayne Country Day School, officials there said.

"She's very modest," Leigh Tanner, a science teacher at WCDS, said. "I would say she probably distinguished herself from other students in this. She seems to get the academic award in just about everything -- AP biology, math, English -- for having the highest average."

It's rare for a student to excel in every subject area, Mrs. Tanner pointed out. But Karis' talents are not limited to the classroom, she said.

"There's really a whole lot more to her," she said. "She's a great leader. She's a role model, a well-rounded student. She's one of those students that has taken (advantage) of everything that Wayne Country Day School has to offer, not just academically but across the board. She has flourished.

"She works hard but never ever complains."

Karis, along with her younger brother, Hunter, a sophomore, has been at WCDS since sixth grade. She said their parents, Dr. and Mrs. Sherman Hawkins, instilled in them both the importance of education.

"But I'm very ambitious, very competitive, just always looking to the future, especially if it gets tough," she said.

That hadn't always been the case, she said, with a shift occurring when she arrived at the private preparatory school.

"When I came here I started seeing people going off to college," she said. "I had difficulties when I was younger. I started learning better here. I realized I was smarter than I originally thought and started working harder."

Her favorite subject area is English, but lately she is particularly enjoying economics.

Over the summer she was part of a student group that traveled to Spain, sparking an interest in an unexpected college major -- international business.

"I really want to do something international," she said. "I'm interested in management consulting, maybe going back to Spain."

She is founder and president of the Spanish Club, which formed last year, and has been on the field hockey team, currently serving as captain, and plays basketball and soccer.

She also tutors first- and third-graders in reading and math.

"I really enjoy giving back," she said of the experience.

To advance to the finalist level of the National Achievement Scholarship competition requires submitting a detailed application, essay and recommendations from her high school.