Augusta Christian Schools student Melany Lopez admits that she has to study hard to make good grades and that she lacked a social life the week prior to taking the SAT.
"Honestly, I worked really hard hoping I would get it," said Melany of the STAR Student award at her school. "I spent hours studying for it. I definitely didn't have much of a social life."
Melany won the STAR honors at her school and credits one teacher in particular with much of her high school success.
"My brother had Mr. Hook as a senior in high school," said Melany of her STAR Teacher, Jack Hook. "I was in the eighth grade, and I'd go and ask Mr. Hook to explain math concepts to me."
Hook has taught Melany algebra II, honors pre-calculus and AP calculus. This is the third year in a row he has been named the school's STAR Teacher.
"I was honored Melany chose me as her STAR Teacher simply because it gives me the opportunity to let people know what a fine young woman she is," said Hook. "It is also tremendously rewarding to receive affirmation that you are making a difference in students' lives -- that's what we all are looking for when we choose this profession."
Melany said she chose Hook as her STAR Teacher because of his consistent encouragement.
"He showed me he had faith in me without putting pressure on me," said the 18-year-old daughter of Dr. Juan Manuel and Marie Nahir Lopez. "He had faith in me when I doubted myself. He's the most patient, calm and understanding man I know."
Hook said it is students such as Melany who led him to teaching.
"Students like Melany are the reason I answered the call to teaching five years ago, after spending 33 years in the Army," said Hook. "She is the type of student who reminds teachers of the joy of teaching. She demonstrates the balanced development spiritually, academically, socially and physically that we desire in all our students."
After applying to eight colleges and having heard from three -- Emory University, the University of Georgia and Washington University in St. Louis -- Melany must decide which school she will attend. She is a finalist for a scholarship at Washington University, has been accepted into the Honors Program at UGA and has been offered a John Emory Scholar at Emory.
Melany plans to major in literature, but aspires to be a surgeon.
"I plan to be a lit major and take all pre-medicine courses," said Melany, who explains that majoring in literature will allow her to learn more about a subject matter she finds fascinating.
Melany stays busy with her many roles -- student body president and member of the school's volleyball team, Beta Club, Spanish Club, praise team and school band. She also will be her class valedictorian.
"Most importantly, she is a young lady of exemplary character," said Hook.
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