Nicole Rogers has been busy penning the final remarks of her valedictorian speech she’s set to give at South Stokes graduation on Thursday night. While the senior reflects on her last four years of high school she can’t help but smile when talking about the future. Out of 15,000 applicants, Rogers was named one of four recipients to receive the prestigious Reynolds Scholarship to Wake Forest University that covers the annual cost of tuition, room and board, plus additional funds for personal expenses and an allowance to study in an overseas program.
But back in October, Rogers worried she may have squelched her opportunity.
“I had an interview set up and I put the school’s address into my GPS. It ended up taking me to the law school on the other side of campus. It was pouring rain outside so I went as fast as I could, but still ended up being 30 minutes late for the interview,” she said. “When I walked in, a man in his 80’s who’d taught at the school for over 30 years, asked me if I’d been swimming. When I left I called my mom and said, ‘Well, forget Wake.’”
As fate would have it, the same professor sat on an influential scholarship selection committee and became an advocate for the teen to receive the Reynolds Scholarship.
“It was an intense process,” she said. “Out of the 15,000, 24 were selected to go down on a Thursday through Sunday. We had interviews and met with heads of departments and then attended classes.”
During one-on-one interviews Rogers explained how she opted to take online classes at North Carolina School of Science and Math while attending South Stokes. She also did cancer research over the summer and presented it at High Point University.
“I think because South Stokes doesn’t have some of the resources other private schools offer, they liked that I’d taken that initiative,” she said.
The scholarship selection committee was also impressed with the teen’s innovative charitable work.
“I planted an acre of watermelons on our farm and sold them. I started in May or so and went through July. I raised over $500 that went to the Ronald McDonald house in Winston Salem.”
During her time in high school Rogers maintained stellar grades and an impressive GPA. The senior was also awarded the Morehead-Cain scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill which would have covered four years of tuition and all expenses paid.
Rogers credits much of the success she’s already seen to her parents, Mike and Christy.
“They’ve always instilled that with hard work nothing is impossible. They believed in me before I even believed in myself,” she said.
Like her family, she shares a deep-rooted loyalty to Stokes County.
“I love this area and I hope to be able to give back,” she said. “I want to eventually become a surgeon and hopefully do research, too. It would be a dream to live in Stokes and work at Baptist Hospital. There’s a lot to look forward to.”
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.