BROOKSVILLE — All 67 Florida counties and three universities selected top students to become this year's Sunshine State Scholars.
Hernando County's representative is Central High School junior Jenny Ho, who attended the awards luncheon on Feb. 18 at an Orlando Double Tree Hotel.
The Sunshine State Scholars program recognizes students who excel in sciences, engineering, technology and mathematics.
Jenny, 16, said she had never heard of the program until her guidance counselor, Pam Barton, contacted her. With her 4.49 grade point average and her schedule heavy in math and science courses, Jenny fit the criteria.
Jenny took algebra I in eighth grade and in high school enrolled in science and math classes whenever she could. In ninth grade she was in honors biology and geometry. She took algebra II during the summer.
In 10th grade she was in honors chemistry, advanced placement biology and precalculus. This year she is in honors anatomy and advanced placement chemistry. She took dual-enrollment college algebra during the first part of the year. Now she is in dual-enrollment precalculus and trigonometry.
"Basically, I'm trying to take as much as I can," she said. She likes dual-enrollment because "you can get an A.A. degree, and it'll cut down on my years in college," she said.
The celebration in Orlando was held over two days. The first included a presentation of scientific innovations and discoveries. The second began with the opportunity to visit with Florida college and university representatives, followed by lunch and the recognition program. During the afternoon, the scholars could visit Universal Studios with complimentary passes.
Jenny was impressed with the college exhibits. She had heard of some of the better-known universities, but others were new to her.
"This actually opened the door to me of other Florida universities that I should apply to," she said. "That's the main purpose of the program, to educate us about Florida schools and get us to stay in Florida. I think it worked, too."
One school stood out for Jenny.
"The one that impressed me the most was Florida International University," she said. With her interest in natural sciences and conservation, Jenny liked FIT's environmental programs involving the Everglades and marine sciences.
Jenny is the daughter of Huy Ho and Annie Trinh of Weeki Wachee.