Ronda Hampton is not a household name.
She not a National Merit Scholarship finalist. She's not an athletic standout. You haven't seen her in an any Harlem High School plays. It may be that her name or photo has never appeared in any newspaper. For all her four years at Harlem High School, Ronda Hampton has flown under the radar.
But what she has done is study. And what she will do is walk across the stage on graduation day as an honor graduate.
"In a year when most seniors slack off, Ronda has really been digging in and sacrificing so she could make this goal," said Margaret Shearouse, an art teacher at Harlem High School.
Ronda, 18, is the daughter of Martha Alice and Ronald Elbert Hampton of Harlem, and she has two sisters - one a fraternal twin - and a brother.
"They knew I was working for it and they didn't have any doubts. I was the only one with doubts," Ronda said. To become an honor graduate, a student must have a grade point average of 90 or above. And your reward for achieving that goal, Ronda point out, is that you get to wear a really cool stole at graduation.
"It shows that you worked to achieve a certain level of excellence," she said.
And for Ronda it has been a struggle.
She came into her senior year with an 89 grade point average. Her counselor told her she would have to make all A's her senior year to accomplish it, nearly an impossible task considering that she is on a college prep track, taking advanced placement courses. Ronda set out to prove him wrong.
"I said, 'No, I'm going to do it,"' she said.
She also made it her mission to let other incoming students know the significance of being an honor graduate. She volunteered at ninth grade orientation so she could spread the word.
"One lady said she would pray for me to make it, and it worked. But I did a lot of praying myself," Ronda said.
It wasn't until the beginning of the third nine weeks that she knew she had the grade point average to be an honor graduate. It was a tight squeeze. At one point she had an 86 average in anatomy. That grade was good enough to exempt her from taking the exam, but it would not be good enough to reach her goal. She calculated she would have to earn a 91 on her final to make the cut.
"I made a 92," she said. "I was so happy."
Ronda said she plans to attend Augusta State University and then the Medical College of Georgia where she would like to study to be a physical therapist.
Ronda said she enjoys writing poetry. This is her second year in Who's Who Among American High School Students and she has also received the English Merit Award. She is also a member of the National Honor Society, the Literary Club and the Spanish Honor Society.
Towering at 5 feet, 9 inches, Ronda said she would have liked to played basketball, but felt she didn't have the time for such activities. She said she studies about four to five hours a night.
"I've had a rough year," she said. "Everybody else has had a chance to relax, but I was in the books."
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