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Today we celebrate four high school students who have already climbed high on the ladder of success. They're smart, they're hardworking, and they know what it takes to do well in the world. They've made their climbs despite tough lives, showing incredible resilience in the face of poverty and other struggles. They are the 2014 winners of the Barnes Scholarship, worth up to $60,000 over four years, chosen by the Tampa Bay Times for their high academic achievement and perseverance amid significant challenges. Check out the mini profiles here, and to read more about them, go to

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St. Petersburg High

College acceptances: University of Florida, University of South Florida, Duke University

College choice: Duke University

Areas of study: Biology and global health

Why have you been able to climb so high?

Throughout my whole life, my parents have always given me this personal drive and have always motivated me to take advantage of the opportunities that America has provided our whole family, (who came here from Bangladesh). These past four years of high school I've always relied on my family's support and the teachers and staff at school to inspire and motivate me.

Who is your inspiration? Muhammad Yunus, who is my grandmother's cousin. He won the Noble Peace Prize recently, (for founding the Grameen Bank and pioneering the concepts of microcredit and microfinance) and his story is similar to that of the rags-to-riches story. He essentially came out of the village Chittagong in Bangladesh and created his own idea and pursued it. I hope to be as successful as (he is) one day and take advantage of the opportunities my American education will provide me.

Fun fact: Huge Pixar Studios fanatic.

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Newsome High

College acceptances: University of Tampa, Colorado State University, University of Southern California and University of Florida

College choice: University of Florida

Area of study: Major in biology, hopefully medical school in the future.

Why have you been able to climb so high?

Knowing what I want and knowing what I had to do to get there. I knew I had to study, I knew I had to work hard, I knew I had to go in after hours and talk to my teachers if I didn't get it, and just put in that extra initiative to get good grades and get into the school I wanted to.

Who is your inspiration? My dad. He didn't exactly get the best hand given to him in life. (After a few traumatic events) he had to raise me on his own and he never complained. We were struggling financially all through my childhood years, I didn't catch onto that until I was much, much older when I could compare my life to others, and on a one (parent) income, it was really hard. But he made it look easy.

Fun fact: Can pretty much quote all the Harry Potter movies.

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Strawberry Crest High

College acceptances: Brown University (also applied to Yale, Princeton and Amherst College, though applications rescinded due to early Brown acceptance)

College choice: Brown University

Area of study: Undecided

Why have you been able to climb so high?

The idea that my parents grew up in Mexico with fewer opportunities linking to education - that made me want to take advantage of what I had and the chances I had, to do something really great with my life. It made me not want to make up excuses for not trying hard in school, because (my parents) didn't make any excuses and didn't have that opportunity. I'm also kind of a geek, so I actually really like school. It's kind of natural.

Who is your inspiration? My mom.

Fun fact: Fluent in Spanish, taking French AP and teaching herself Russian.

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Palm Harbor University High

College acceptances: University of Florida and Florida State University

College choice: University of Florida

Area of study: Most likely public relations

Why have you been able to climb so high?

Having a not so great upbringing, coming from a single-mom home and watching my mom struggle, knowing that I wanted a better life not for me but for my whole family. I know that getting a great education, and (success) later in life, pretty much depends on your schooling beforehand so that drove me to do really well in school and succeed.

Who is your inspiration? My mom. Watching her do it on her own and handling herself so well, she really inspired me.

Fun fact: Is a new "yogi," a.k.a, a person who is proficient in yoga.

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The winners of the 2014 Barnes Scholarships are among 10 finalists selected from 402 applicants. The scholarship program targets high school seniors in the Tampa Bay Times' audience area of Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. It is named for Andrew Barnes, former chairman and CEO of Times Publishing Co.

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The six runnersup for the 2014 award will receive $1,000 each. They are Ellen Pham, Chamberlain High; Debaditta "Roop" Ghosh, King High; Richard Hendel, Middleton High; Rachel Davis, Nature Coast Technical High; Ravi Vemuri, Springstead High; and Zachary Dyott, River Ridge High.