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DC-area students receive $10,000 scholarships for 'Beating the Odds'

DC Area Students Receive $10,000 Scholarships for Beating the Odds. (Kellye Lynn/ABC7)

What junior ROTC students at Herndon High School call physical therapy is recreation for Elsa Arita.

"I don't have fun. The fun that I do is here in ROTC when we go outside once a week and that's when I get fun," she shared.

There's not much time for it since the high school junior is at school all day and works all night. "I'm good. A little bit tired. All the time, I'm tired but I'm okay," the 18-year-old told ABC7 News.

Arita works as a cook more than 40 hours a week to help her mother and still maintains a 3.3 grade point average. Her former ESOL instructor Raina Hasnain explained, "Some students don't have any motivation to be in school but she was on top of everything. She used to finish everything in the class."

Arita's discipline and determination is getting attention outside the classroom.

The Children's Defense Fund recently awarded her and four other area students $10,000 college scholarships as part of the "Beat the Odds" program. All of the recipients have demonstrated academic excellence despite tremendous difficulties.

Friend Yaquelin Ramires shared her feelings about Arita. "She's a very hard worker. She always worries for everybody. She tries to help most of the people that she can," Ramires expressed.

After graduating from high school, Arita plans to attend community college or join the Navy. The aspiring attorney hopes to eventually assist others who face obstacles and on the way please a very important person. "What inspires me is I want to make my mom proud of me. I want to make a difference," she said.

The Beat the Odds program also trains students to become future leaders.

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