There is no denying Myesha Jemison’s academic abilities.
She has earned every hallmark one imagines a driven, intelligent and hardworking student could achieve while in school.
Top of the class? She’s the 2014 valedictorian for Bayside High School.
Accepted to a good college? She’s Ivy League bound this fall.
Accolades? There are too many to choose from. However, just last month, she, along with six other VBCPS students, was named a Gates Millennium Scholar, earning her a full scholarship for her undergraduate work.
Yet, talk to anyone who has had Jemison in their classroom, and it is not her intellectual abilities they credit: it is the sweet disposition of a caring and generous student looking to quietly make a difference in people’s lives.
“Myesha is a beautiful young lady inside and out,” said Terry Mejia, coordinator of the Health Sciences Academy at Bayside High School. “She actively seeks for ways to improve the lives of others; always considering everyone’s best interests…Her selflessness and compassion allow her to see the beauty in all of her peers.”
Jemison routinely visited the guidance office to find scholarship opportunities that would benefit her classmates. She even created an online group, where she would post new scholarships for her fellow students to apply for. Sometimes, she would even hand-deliver applications, ones she felt were perfect matches for her peers.
She volunteered in the Sentara Princess Anne Mother/Baby Unit setting up beds and making entrance packets for new moms.
She worked with the Relay for Life effort, serving as the public relations chairman for the city’s Relay for Life campaign.
And, she founded and served as president for the Bayside Marlins Ladies Club, an organization that had upperclassmen at Bayside mentor eighth- and ninth-grade girls as well as work on how to accomplish their goals while in school. The girls would also take etiquette classes together. As a reward for completing the class, Jemison arranged a dinner at an upscale restaurant for the girls to enjoy together.
“I think you should let your actions speak for you because actions do speak louder than words,” Jemison said. “You want to set an example that is worth mimicking…It’s humbling to know the example you have set has inspired other people to fulfill their goals.”
Few people would know better about achieving goals.
Throughout her high school career, Jemison yearned to attend Princeton University, where she would find a campus of passionate students eager to learn by some of the country’s most prestigious staff.
“Initially, it was somewhat of a wild dream,” she said. “I knew if I kept my faith and if I worked hard, I could make my dream come true.”
And, that’s exactly what happened.
Jemison was accepted to Princeton earlier this year.
“I cried. My mom cried. I couldn’t wait to go visit,” she said.
However, her success has not created an inflated sense of self, or instilled a notion that she is somehow better than her classmates. Instead, Jemison is compelled to make sure those around her realize their dreams as well.
“I want other people to see they can do the same thing,” she said. “Whatever dream or passion you have, you’re the only person holding yourself back. If you set your mind (that) this is something you want to accomplish, you can achieve it.”
At Princeton, Jemison is deciding whether she wants to study computer science or molecular biology, but she does know she wants to be in the medical field, working in either infectious diseases or global health and providing aid to women and children.
“If she continues her pursuit of a medical career, she will be more than just a doctor,” Mejia said. “I can envision her taking the initiative to open a clinic that will benefit others in the community. As a selfless individual, she will continue to improve the lives of others no matter what path she follows.”
What is your favorite book? 1,000 Splendid Suns
What’s the last movie you watched? Passion of the Christ
What is your study tip? Don’t procrastinate.
What are you most looking forward to at Princeton? Doing a lot of research in the medical field.
What is your favorite snack food? Any type of fruit