MURRAY — Never mind that American Fork senior Hailey James is planning on attending Harvard in the fall to study biology, or that as a high school student she is her family’s primary provider, or that she is the top student in her class with a 4.0 GPA.
James was still shocked to hear her name called Wednesday night as the winner of the all around Sterling Scholar award at Cottonwood High School.
“You look around and see all these incredible, talented people,” she said. “You really are shocked, as cliche as it sounds. … It just puts you into a good mood hearing what these students have done.”
James also took home a Sterling Scholar award in science, one of 13 categories at the competition. Fifteen finalists in each category attended the ceremony, and two students in each area earned runners-up awards.
Business winner Carley Herrick said she wasn't necessarily shocked but that she had been working herself into a nervous wreck over the past two weeks, hanging on every detail of her panel interviews that she could remember.
“I had just been overthinking everything in my mind, making myself way too nervous,” Herrick said. “It’s all I had been thinking about for the past two weeks.”
After schools in the Wasatch region selected Sterling Scholars in several subjects, the second round of judging was held at Woods Cross High School in February, where judges whittled down their lists of most impressive students and decided winners.
For social science winner Janelle Delgadillo from Hunter High School, it was an important night for her and her family.
“The first thing I thought to myself was thank you to my family for getting me here,” Delgadillo said. “The next thing was, please don’t trip.”
As overall winner, James is the recipient in $4,000 scholarship funds from the Deseret News and KSL, sponsors of the scholarship. Category winners received $2,000 each in scholarship money, and $700 was given to each runner up.
The winner of this year’s visual arts category, Marc Allen, said he would never have predicted that he'd be in this position just two years ago. Allen said he didn’t realize he had a natural gift until taking a pottery class during his junior year at Northridge High School.
“I learned I had a natural eye for what looked structurally right and what looked wrong,” he said. “But I had to really work a lot on the technical aspect, and all the credit goes to my teachers for helping me work hard on that.”