By John Crowder
Katia Williams, a 17-year-old senior at Deer Valley High School, who is an Advanced Placement (AP) scholar and ranks in the top 1% of her class, was recently named as a recipient of a National Achievement Scholarship.
The National Achievement Scholarship Program, part of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, was established as an academic competition in 1964. It provides recognition for outstanding Black American high school students. Students qualify for the program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). More than 160,000 competed for the award last year, and Katia was one of only 700 students across the nation to receive one of the $2500 scholarships awarded.
The prestigious award is only one of several that Katia has garnered for her academic endeavors as far back as her fourth grade year, when she won the school spelling bee at Jack London Elementary School and went on to reach the semifinals in the Contra Costa County Spelling Bee.
Since then, her awards have extended beyond academics. Through the years she has received numerous awards at the Contra Costa County Fair for her creative writing. Katia also sings with the Deer Valley High Show Choir and dances with the high school’s Dance Crew.
More recently, Katia and her science partner, who are both taking AP Calculus AB and AP Physics this year, placed third in the Contra Costa County Science and Engineering Fair, for their project, “Simple Calculus: The Transformation of an Oxymoron into a Reality.” The project, entered in the Math and Computer Science Category, was selected to advance to the California State Science Fair. Established in 1952, the fair will be hosted this year at the California Science Center in Los Angeles on May 18 and 19. Katia will be one of over 1,000 students competing for over $50,000 in prize money at the event.
Katia does not spend all her time on academic pursuits and art competitions, however. Last August, she traveled to Honduras on a mission trip and helped build seven homes, distributed food to the poor, and assisted in a medical clinic. She is also a camp counselor for underprivileged children and children from foster care. This last Easter, she could be found at Shepherd’s Gate, a shelter for battered women and children, serving a traditional Easter meal.
Katia has applied to, and been accepted at, all four of the University of California schools to which she sent an application; no surprise given her list of accomplishments and her 2060 SAT score (which places her in approximately the 97th percentile of all students taking the test). Her plan is to attend either UC Berkeley of UCLA in the fall, and to major in Statistics. She would like to pursue a career in Data Science.
While she may not have settled on a choice of school, one thing is certain: Katia will continue to achieve success wherever she goes, and DVHS can take pride in this soon-to-be alumna.