Award honors a `self-made' scholar


May 20, 2002|By Kimbra Cutlip | Kimbra Cutlip,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WHEN administrators at Southern Senior High School in Harwood held their Seniors Awards Assembly on Friday, one young man stood out among his peers.

Bryant Hall of Galesville was honored with the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation's National Scholars Award for outstanding academic and civic achievement. One of 50 recipients nationwide, Hall is the first person from his school to win it. He plans to use the $20,000 to pay for his studies at Yale University, where he will begin in the fall.

With a 4.42 grade point average, Hall ranks third in his graduating class.

"He has some pretty great credentials," said guidance counselor Tom Savannah. "I wouldn't be surprised if he's president someday."

He won a National Achievement Award for scoring 1310 (out of 1600) on the SAT. He participated in student government, completed an internship with the Anne Arundel County Board of Education, and spent his summers working for C-SPAN. But it hasn't been all academic for Hall. He also found time for sports. He's on the track team, and was captain of the football team.

When he heads to Yale in the fall, he plans to study political science and foreign language. But he's insightful enough not to be too specific about his goals.

"I've kind of given up on having it all planned out," he said. "I tried to make the most of high school and [I hope] I can take the next step and make the most of college."

According to Savannah, one of the most impressive things about Hall is that he's accomplished everything on his own merit.

"He is self-made," Savannah said, "He didn't inherit a lot as far as connections. Things weren't handed to him. He did this on his own."

What he did inherit, according to Hall, was character. Raised by his single mother, Patricia Hawkins, Hall said her example instilled a strong work ethic in him and motivated him to achieve. Although she's worked two jobs to provide for her son, Hawkins credits him with setting an example for her.

"As far as raising him, I've done that," she said, "but what he does it's all from him. It's from his heart. ... He keeps saying I'm his role model, but he doesn't realize he's mine. He puts a lot of time and effort into everything. He works way into the night to make sure that whatever he does it's done to his best. He doesn't go to bed until it's the way he wants it."

Hall said he's not surprised by his achievements, but he's a bit surprised by the level of his success. "Who would have thought I'd be going to Yale?" he said.

Tom Savannah, for one. Savannah said the first time he met Hall, in a freshman career counseling session, Hall told him he was going to go to Harvard University. "He doesn't know I was joking," Hall said. Neither did the other students in the session because Savannah said, "they turned to me and said, if anyone can do it, he can."

When Hall received his award on Friday, he surprised the teachers by giving one as well. Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation asks their scholars to designate a teacher to receive an educator of distinction award. Hall chose his Advanced Placement history teacher, Susan Barry. He presented her with a plaque and a crystal award from the foundation.

Trisha Bazemore, the program assistant for Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, said this is the third year they have asked the scholars to present an award to their teachers.

"It's not a favorite teacher award," she said, "It's about [the students] recognizing the values this person has given them. It's a chance to publicly recognize the contributions their school and their teachers have made in their success."

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