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Student researches scholarships to help ease financial burden

Features Editor

Toni Deveridge is so grateful for all her parents have done for her that she didn’t want them to be saddled with providing her with a college education.

So, the Goshen High School senior decided to take matters into her own hands. She began to research scholarships that are available to high school seniors and then she sat down and applied for those for which she was qualified.

"It was nothing but paperwork," Toni said of the applications. "I didn’t want to put a financial burden on my parents and, if I could get some scholarships, I could help out with my college education."

The efforts paid off for Toni. Not just the time she put into filling out applications, but all of the time she spent applying herself academically for the future and giving of herself in community service.

Toni will leave Goshen High School and, perhaps, any Pike County High School, as one of the most "decorated" seniors of all time.

She recently returned from Atlanta where she was recognized as a Coca-Cola Regional Scholar.

"The Coca-Cola scholarship program was open to anyone and 91,000 students from all around the United States applied," Toni said. "Only 252 were awarded scholarships and I was fortunate to be one of those."

The regional finalists received $4,000 scholarships and are in the running for 52 national scholarships in the amount of $20,000 each.

"We haven’t heard from those and it would be great to get one of those, but I’m proud to have been a regional finalist," Toni said. "We had a great time in Atlanta. We visited Coca-Cola World and got a lot of souvenirs. And, we were involved in a beautification project at Brownwood Park, where we clean up up the grounds, painted benches and made picnic tables. It was a lot of fun and I met some really great people."

For Toni, the Atlanta outing was an eye-opening experience because most of the finalists came from large high schools.

"Some of them had more than 1,000 people in their graduating classes," she said. "When I told them there were 45 seniors in my class, they thought I went to a private school. But, I told them, no, it was a public school and they couldn’t believe that."

This week Toni is in Louisville, Ky.,. as a member of the 2002 class of Toyota Community Scholars. One hundred high school seniors were chosen from 12,000 nominees and will be honored at a dinner/awards ceremony on Friday.

"You had to be recommended for that scholarship and there could be only one per school," she said.

The Toyota scholarships are valued at $10,000 and $20,000.

In addition to these scholarship awards, Toni has been honored as PRAISE scholar and as Youth of the Year by the Troy Exchange Club.

She has received $1,000 scholarships from the Alabama Association of School Office Personnel and the Alabama Rural Electric Association. In addition to being valedictorian of her class, she has also been named to the Birmingham Post Herald’s 2002 Alabama All-Academic Team.

Toni said she is very appreciative of the awards that have come her way and will make every effort to make sure she is deserving of the confidence placed in her.

Although her ACT score of 32 will get her into almost any institution of higher learning that she chooses, her choice of universities is Troy State.

"I love Troy State," she said. "It’s a great university and I can get as good an education here as anywhere else, so why would I want to go anywhere else."

As a Global Studies participant, Toni has earned enough college credit so that she can enter TSU full time as a sophomore.

"I’m not in a hurry to get in and out of college, though," she said. "I want to enjoy college life and learn as much as I can so when I graduate I’ll be prepared for whatever opportunities I have before me."