A group of exceptional D.C. students were recognized for their hard work Tuesday at the first-ever Chancellor's Scholars Luncheon. The students were asked to briefly talk about their accomplishments. For most of them, the list was long.
"These are the valedictorians, the salutatorians, the most improved, the scholar athletes," says Chancellor Kaya Henderson.
Timesha Ray, the valedictorian at Ballou High School, played sports and was also named prom queen.
"I knew I could be better than what everyone thought I was," she says.
The 17 year old had to fight the stereotypes, she says, of a teen growing up in Southeast Washington.
"Nobody believed that the children that attended Ballou Senior High School would make it out with the high GPA as I did," she says.
It's what motivated her and pushed her to work harder.
"These young people have determination, they have a grit, they have persistence, and they will change this world," Henderson says.
The event also recognized those who didn't get a good start, but changed their life around.
"If you walk outside and you don't see no successful people, then you're going to think why I got to be successful? Why I got to wear a suit?" says Emanuel Purdie, a student at Ballou.
Purdie changed his outlook and his grades and hopes to study theater at Howard.
"You got to see the bigger picture and step outside the box, evaluate your friends, evaluate your life," he says.
"Think about yourself," Ray says. "Don't think about what other think about you, and don't settle for less because it's more convenient. Just do more and go beyond. Expand your choices."