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Posted April 16, 2013

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AVID Senior Named State's Only Dell Scholar

Nicole Ferguson of Manzano High credits the program, her classmates, teacher and her own determination for helping her earn the $20,000 scholarship and new laptop computer.

MHS senior Nicole Ferguson

Nicole Ferguson is getting a brand new Dell laptop computer for college. And $20,000 to go along with it.

The Manzano High senior is New Mexico’s only Dell Scholar, an honor that has earned her not only a computer and financial aid, but also resources and mentoring to ensure she has the support she needs to obtain her college degree.

Nicole credits AVID and teacher Camille Gonzales for making the scholarship possible. After all, it was in her AVID class that Nicole learned about the scholarship and got help filling out the application.

AVID – Advancement via Individual Determination – is an elective class for students who are capable of completing a college-prep path but need extra support. The class, offered at two dozen APS middle and high schools, pushes students to challenge themselves in high school and prepares them for college. It targets students like Nicole who often are the first in their families to go to college.

Nicole has been a part of the program since her freshman year and will be among the first group of APS graduates who participated in the program during all four years of high school.

She will be attending Brigham Young University, where she plans to study nursing.  For Nicole, it’s a very personal career path; the 18 year old has spent a big part of her high school years under the care of those in the profession.

Just a couple of years ago, Nicole was diagnosed with Familial Aclenomatous Polyposis, a precancerous disease that led to the removal her large intestine. There were complications and more surgeries and months of recovery. She missed a lot of school, but she never quit doing her schoolwork, thanks in large part to Ms. Gonzales and her AVID peers who kept her on track. She managed to maintain her A/B average, is in the top 10 percent of her class and got accepted into her dream college.

“It was a lot to go through as a teenager, and I’m proud of the fact that I was able to keep up with my schoolwork,” Nicole said.

"Nicole is a wonderful young lady, and I truly feel blessed to have been able to teach her for four years," said Ms. Gonzales. "She has handled adversity that no teenager should have to face, and she has done so with grace. Nicole exhibits the individual motivation and drive that exemplifies the AVID student. I have no doubt that she will be successful in completing her education at BYU, and I will miss her terribly next year."

She also credits her parents, Kristy and Chris, and her little sisters and brother for supporting her through this challenging journey.

Nicole will graduate with the rest of the Monarchs next month, but she won’t forget her AVID classmates and teacher. “We were like a little family within the school.”

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