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THE CLASS OF 2017 Another cadre of outstanding high school students has been selected to participate in the University of Maryland Incentive Awards Program,* designed to recognize and promote academic excellence and leadership among students who have faced adverse life circumstances and prevailed. In this, the 13th year of the program, we are proud to welcome this new class of scholars. Nelson Arana-Vasquez Northwestern High School (Prince George’s County) Jasmine Drummond KIPP Baltimore / St. Paul’s School for Girls Esther Ekanem Mergenthaler VocationalTechnical High School Marlon Everett Potomac High School Darrielle Fletcher Baltimore Polytechnic Institute De’Ja Geter-Jackson Western High School Amirah Grady Western High School Josselyn Hernandez Western High School Shane James Northwestern High School (Prince George’s County)

Josue Mendoza High Point High School Jasmine Morgan KIPP DC College Preparatory Jessica Nolasco Parkdale High School William Ramirez Baltimore Polytechnic Institute Sharita Ray Suitland High School Ladeja Robinson Baltimore Polytechnic Institute Nabreyia Scott KIPP Baltimore / St. Paul’s School for Girls Jasmine Thomas Fairmont Heights High School Davette Vice Baltimore Polytechnic Institute Kaila Williams Western High School

Quinn Kelly Central High School

* The University of Maryland Incentive Awards Program comprises the Suzanne G. and Murray A. Valenstein Baltimore Incentive Awards Program and the Prince George’s County Incentive Awards Program.

Nelson Arana-Vasquez Northwestern High School (Prince George’s County) ANTICIPATED MAJOR: Business PEOPLE SAY: “Nelson shows an unusual zest for learning and

a strong aptitude for mathematics. He readily understands the concepts and demonstrates a willingness to work. Most importantly, Nelson understands the meaning of commitment. He works hard to balance his personal life and his school responsibilities. I have been very impressed with his character, maturity and sense of responsibility. He maintains positive relationships with his teachers, and other students look to him as a role model. I have never watched someone who was so determined to succeed and work so hard to accomplish his goals. He has been nothing short of amazing.”

Jasmine Drummond KIPP Baltimore / St. Paul’s School for Girls ANTICIPATED MAJOR: Business PEOPLE SAY: “Jasmine has consistently shown an interest in

expanding her horizons by getting to know new people and seeking out new experiences to familiarize herself with other cultures, points of view and ways of relating to the world. Among Jasmine’s greatest strengths are her upbeat personality, her unfailing positive attitude and her ability to get others to listen, participate and get involved. She is forward-thinking, perceptive and smart. She will contribute so much to campus life and add a layer of generosity and integrity to any initiative. Jasmine is a remarkable young woman!”

Esther Ekanem Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School ANTICIPATED MAJOR: Mechanical engineering PEOPLE SAY: “Esther is a capable, hardworking young woman

whose determination and perseverance will allow nothing to impede her progress. Her maturity, resourcefulness and innate desire for improvement will enable her to reach the goals she has set. Her experience has resulted in a more confident, taskoriented and focused young lady whose leadership abilities, communication skills and work ethic are superior to many. She has been referred to as the “Quiet Storm”—Esther is always poised, but an energy and drive to succeed are under the outward calm.”

Marlon Everett Potomac High School ANTICIPATED MAJOR: Engineering PEOPLE SAY: “Even as a freshman, Marlon stood head and

shoulders over most other students in his class. He demonstrated not only initiative, intelligence and creativity, but also superior leadership ability. Marlon’s intellect is matched by his ability to communicate clearly and to project an open, friendly persona. He also stands out for his dedication to quality coursework, his commitment to good grades and his overall maturity regarding education. When many of his classmates happily accept the easy answer to a question, Marlon always goes further and insists on a reason. He maintains a refreshing academic curiosity, and this served him well in my AP English class; it will serve him well at the University of Maryland, too.”

Darrielle Fletcher Baltimore Polytechnic Institute ANTICIPATED MAJOR: Biological sciences PEOPLE SAY: “Darrielle is an outstanding student who chal-

lenges herself by taking a demanding curriculum. While maintaining a strong academic record, she had to balance school and her home responsibilities on a daily basis. Despite her challenges, she maintained a keen sense of organizational skills and time management to stay on top of her highly competitive academic environment. On top of her ability to persevere through difficult times, her hard work, talent and interests outside the classroom make her an ideal student. Only a bright and highly motivated person is able to maintain such academic consistency. She has demonstrated the ability, drive and self-discipline to excel.�

De’Ja Geter-Jackson Western High School ASPIRATION:: Obstetrician/gynecologist PEOPLE SAY: “De’Ja exudes passion. She is passionate about

her studies, athletics and liturgical dance. But what impresses me most is that even though she is book-smart, she is also grounded and well-rounded. She enthralls me with her energy and personality. This young woman has become a vibrant leader—respectful, attentive and disciplined—while motivating to her team and classmates. She refuses to stand down and sit quietly, watching the world pass her by. De’Ja is worthy, noble and brave. She does not use her past as a crutch and sees the blessings in her life. With all of these characteristics, she will lead a full life and achieve success.”

Amirah Grady Western High School ANTICIPATED MAJOR: Government and politics PEOPLE SAY: “Amirah has demonstrated outstanding academic

ability, leadership, innovative thinking and a natural inclination to help those around her. She consistently meets her academic challenges with an avid sense of curiosity that has served and will serve her well with her pursuits in and out of the classroom. She is caring, responsible and extremely articulate, which is evident in her grades and status amongst her teachers. Her broad range of experience in extracurricular activities and professional work has clearly contributed to her mature demeanor. She has a level of eloquence that puts her far beyond her peers.�

Josselyn Hernandez Western High School ASPIRATION: Pediatrician PEOPLE SAY: “Josselyn is an excellent candidate who demon-

strates uncommon persistence and maturity despite life situations. She is bright, energetic, compassionate, conscientious and a genuinely well-rounded individual. She is eager to discover new things and motivated to think critically. Without fail, she is prepared, motivated and determined to succeed. Josselyn truly exhibits uncommon resiliency, sense of purpose and steadfast commitment to her studies. Comments from her teachers are consistent about making significant contributions on a daily basis, which will put her on steady footing for a smooth transition to college and medical school.�

Shane James Northwestern High School (Prince George’s County) ASPIRATION: Environmental scientist SPECIAL INTEREST: Political activism PEOPLE SAY: “Shane is one of the most intelligent students I

have taught in my career. Not only does he possess a natural academic prowess, he is also one of the hardest workers I have come across. He has the ability to clearly and courageously ask questions and discuss his ideas with others. Shane also has strong convictions and expresses them clearly while being empathetic to others with different perspectives. He also reasons incredibly well and comes to conclusions that other students struggle to reach. Shane is destined to become an accomplished scholar, and probably much more. He is welldeserving of a place in your program.”

Quinn Kelly Central High School ASPIRATION: Aerospace engineer PEOPLE SAY: “Quinn’s enthusiasm is contagious and most evi-

dent when he is involved in something he believes is important. He thinks outside of the box and brings an alternative point of view that leads to lively class discussions. He has consistently impressed me with the depth of his reflection and his insightful take on deep questions. More often than any other student in the class, Quinn is able to summarize the key learning from our discussion in accessible language that clarifies matters for all the participants. Despite challenges, Quinn has never lost his good sense of humor or drive to improve. Given the chance, he will rise to meet and exceed expectations.”

Josue Mendoza High Point High School ANTICIPATED MAJOR: Engineering SPECIAL HONOR: College Park Scholars PEOPLE SAY: “Josue was one of my best students. He is exceptional: motivated, persistent and studious. He strives to excel in all domains, and his goals include becoming an astronautical engineer. Josue is very well-liked, patient, reliable and very intelligent; he consistently showed good study and work habits. He regularly and naturally assumed a leadership position in my classroom; he was able to direct other students and help them gain a better understanding of the class material. He is dedicated and disciplined and can achieve wonders.�

Jasmine Morgan KIPP DC College Preparatory ANTICIPATED MAJOR: Environmental science SPECIAL INTEREST: Violin PEOPLE SAY: “Jasmine is incredibly professional; you would

never know that she is 17. She approaches her work with a tremendous sense of purpose and approaches every task with an uncommon sense of gravity. Jasmine will excel in college because she has taken ownership of her education with exceptional maturity. During class, she is almost always the first person to ask questions about the material, and she keeps asking until she understands. This relentless pursuit of understanding is a quality that I believe is rare among college students, let alone Jasmine’s peers. Not only has she been a standard-bearer for academic excellence at our school, but also for character and integrity.”

Jessica Nolasco Parkdale High School ANTICIPATED MAJOR: International business SPECIAL HONOR: College Park Scholars PEOPLE SAY: “Jessica has always impressed me with her consistent work ethic in everything she does. She is highly detail-oriented and takes a lot of pride in her work, often going the extra mile in most of her assignments. Jessica is an excellent critical thinker, and her best traits include her ability to be intuitive and introspective. She is open-minded and respects the opinions of others even if they don’t agree with hers. Moreover, she has excellent character and integrity. Jessica epitomizes the ideal student and would be a tremendous asset to the University of Maryland.”

William Ramirez Baltimore Polytechnic Institute ANTICIPATED MAJOR: Mechanical engineering SPECIAL HONOR: Honors College PEOPLE SAY: “William has always performed at the top of his classes, usually exceeding expectations and consistently making important contributions. He is no stranger to hard work, and one glance at his academic history is a testament. He does not shy away from a challenge and relentlessly seeks solutions to problems, where others would simply give up. He possesses a quiet optimism and is modest, kind and reflective by nature. He is well-mannered and excited about learning and exhibits an excellent work ethic. It is rare to find such a strong sense of responsibility, intelligence and personality in one so young, and I am excited about his future.�

Sharita Ray Suitland High School ANTICIPATED MAJOR: Computer science SPECIAL HONOR: College Park Scholars PEOPLE SAY: “Sharita is a highly motivated student and a very high achiever. She has a positive attitude toward school and learning and will sacrifice hours of sleep in order to complete homework assignments. She is also a leader, engaged within her school and within her community. Sharita is always willing to stay after school to tutor students who may need assistance and goes to their homes if necessary. She gives insight to her classmates about keeping on task and setting goals and priorities and encourages them to learn and improve. I am impressed by Sharita’s mature sense of responsibility and her work ethic. She lets nothing stand in the way of her progress.”

Ladeja Robinson Baltimore Polytechnic Institute ASPIRATION: Neurosurgeon SPECIAL INTEREST: Writing PEOPLE SAY: ““Leader,” “giving,” “hard worker” and “academically motivated” are just some of the words that come to mind when I think of Ladeja. She is not afraid to take risks. Her gifts of reason and determination combined with her compassion for others are qualities to help her excel in her desired career as a neurosurgeon. This driven student actively and unfailingly shows that she is focused, talented and has a spirit of giving. She is positive, picks up on concepts easily and takes initiative at all times with an infectious smile. She is an exceptional student and will contribute to your program more than you expect.”

Nabreyia Scott KIPP Baltimore / St. Paul’s School for Girls ANTICIPATED MAJOR: Early childhood education SPECIAL INTEREST: Languages PEOPLE SAY: “Nabreyia has maintained an impressive focus on—and has excelled in—academics. She has a zeal for the arts and is an excellent writer. She is involved in a plethora of clubs and activities and has numerous leadership responsibilities. She loves serving others and being part of organizations that cross cultural divides. She always has a smile on her face and has a passion for life. She is excited about her future and is a ray to others around her. Nabreyia will soar in a collegiate academic setting.”

Jasmine Thomas Fairmont Heights High School ASPIRATION: Architect PEOPLE SAY: “Jasmine is mature, disciplined, academically

focused and an outstanding and effective leader. She leads by example and is highly respected by her fellow students, instructors and the school administration. They all value her opinions, which are well-thought-out, logical and insightful. She has excellent listening skills and the ability to totally focus on the message and ask the right questions, leading to better understanding. She is goal-oriented and makes excellent decisions regarding her life. She is a person of exemplary character and lives by the highest personal standards. She has unlimited potential. An investment in Jasmine is a great investment not only in her future, but in our society as well.“

Davette Vice Baltimore Polytechnic Institute ASPIRATION: Obstetrician/gynecologist PEOPLE SAY: “In the classroom and within her relationships

with peers, teachers and administrators, Davette has demonstrated personal qualities and character that will make her very successful as she pursues higher education. She is polite, respected and a positive influence on her peers and throughout the community. She has effectively balanced her academic obligations and personal circumstances and maintained a steadfast drive to achieve no matter what life brings. I am confident she will uphold the high standards expected in your program and in life.�

Kaila Williams Western High School ANTICIPATED MAJOR: Kinesiology PEOPLE SAY: “I observed Kaila’s ability and promise in my

class, and her identity as a worker and receptive student was quite evident. She was never intimidated by hard work and remained active inside and outside of school, while consistently conscientious about her academics. She measures her success in terms of the quality of her educational experience. She continually demonstrated integrity, tenacity and purpose in handling all aspects of her life. I am proud of her and know that these characteristics will continue to shine as she enters college life.”

For more information about the program and giving opportunities, please contact: University of Maryland Incentive Awards Program Jacqueline W. Lee, Director 1103 Cole Student Activities Building College Park, MD 20742 301.405.9024 Become a fan!