3 area students win national scholarships

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comApril 3, 2012 

For those who know Bluffton High School senior Tibra Wheeler, her recent scholarship comes as no surprise.

"She works so hard, and she is constantly juggling things," said Bluffton High guidance director Melody McAllister. "There's not a moment when you see her when you're not thinking the wheels are turning in her head."

Wheeler is one of three local students who received National Achievement Scholarships. Hilton Head Island High senior Adrian Austin and Hardeeville High senior Tamekia Daniels also won the scholarships, presented by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

About 800 black high school seniors across the nation are awarded the scholarships. Students who make or surpass a requisite pre-SAT score are eligible for the scholarships, and the application includes an essay and demonstration of consistently high academic achievement.

For Wheeler, that was no problem.

Bluffton High School principal Mark Dievendorf said Wheeler has a GPA of 4.87, has excelled in 10 Advanced Placement courses and an all-honors schedule, and is a Girl Scout. She also is a three-sport standout for the high school -- she plays basketball and runs cross country and track; she holds the girls school record in the 400-meter dash.

Wheeler said she's has taken on so much because of the high expectations she and her parents have set for her.

"(My parents) have always pushed me to strive for my best," she said. "They have always challenged me since I've been little. I think I enjoy the challenge, which is why I take the higher level classes."

Wheeler said she plans to use the $2,500 one-time scholarship toward a degree in biomedical engineering. She'd like to build prosthetic limbs one day, she said, but she's not sure yet where she will attend college. The choice has been narrowed to three schools: the University of Florida, the University of South Carolina and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Indiana.

Attempts to reach officials at Hilton Head High and Hardeeville High for comment about their scholarship winners were unsuccessful.

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