Each year sponsors of the Deseret News-KSL Sterling Scholar Awards look for deserving students who have surmounted difficult handicaps or demonstrated extraordinary achievement by overcoming accident or illness, social, material or environmental problems, or by achieving far above indicated ability.

A special award, not given on a regular basis, was awarded Wednesday night to a Granite High School student for her exceptional effort, persistence, courage and determination although she was not a winner or runner-up.Recipient of the special award was Samantha Lee, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Xin Kwang Lee, Salt Lake City.

Born in Vietnam, she was among a group of 20 "boat people" who left the country to begin a new life in the United States. Because of the language barrier and cultural differences, she found American schools a hardship.

Through extra hours of study and determined effort, she overcame these obstacles and she excelled in her classes, including English and French.

She maintained a four-year 4.0 grade point average and ranks first in her senior class of 374. A member of the National Honor Society, she has won numerous awards, including an essay contest sponsored by the Utah Air National Guard on "What America Means to Me." Lee became an American citizen in 1984.