PALMETTO BAY, FL -- May 26, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Though she is far too modest to admit it, Palmetto Bay resident Aisha Chebbi is used to winning awards. But when the Coral Reef High School Senior Class President received news she had won the 2020 Coke Scholar Award, she said she was shocked. According to the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation,
ess than 1/6th of 1% of applicants were chosen to receive this extremely competitive honor.
"These 150 students, who were selected from an initial pool of 93,075 applications from across the country, not only exemplify superior leadership, service, and academics – they are change agents, positively affecting others in their communities," according to CCSF. Aisha will receive a
$20,000 college scholarship and join a family of 6,300+ alumni who are leading positive change in their communities and around the world. What she won't be doing is attending the annual CCSF banquet, which, because of COVID-19 restrictions had to be cancelled this year.
In addition to the Coke Scholars award, Aisha captured the Princeton Prize in Race Relations. According to the university, "Recipients have stood up to intolerance, worked toward advancing racial equity, and encouraged racial comity in their school or communities."
Reading Aisha's bio, we learn that among her many outstanding accomplishments, she is an AP Scholar with Distinction, speaks fluent German, is a
Silver Knight Nominee for World Languages, volunteers at Nicklaus Children's hospital and oh, by the way, she also hosts her own podcast.
We wanted to get to know Aisha, so we asked her a few questions about what the two awards mean to her as well as where she's heading next, and how she feels about graduating during a pandemic.
How long have you and your family lived in Palmetto Bay?
Since I was in third grade- around 10 years. Before that, we lived in South Miami
What schools did you attend?
Sunset Elementary, George Washington Carver Middle School, Coral Reef Senior High School
Tell us about the 2020 Coke Scholar Award and the Princeton Prize in Race Relations. These sound exciting.
Finding out that I was a Coca-Cola scholar was so shocking that I almost did not believe it at first. I had been anxiously awaiting the email with the news all afternoon and my jaw dropped when I saw the email. I immediately called one of my counselors from school to share the news. As you saw from the statistics, this scholarship is incredibly competitive and after a stressful interview, I was so relieved and overjoyed to have been selected. This scholarship is not only in the form of money, but it is a community. I am most excited to have begun connecting with other scholars from around the country and I am so inspired by my fellow scholars. Knowing that this Foundation will support me in all of my endeavors for years to come, I feel so supported and am now more motivated to continue my pursuits of service and my academic pursuits (in college and beyond). This opportunity is something that I am so thankful for and I am so humbled that the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has recognized me on such a scale and I am proud to be a part of this family.
I was really honored to have received the Princeton Prize in Race Relations, especially after applying the year before too. In my junior year, I was the Inaugural Recipient of the Gail Serota Award for Civic Service from the Princeton Club of South Florida. Gail, the past President of the organization, unfortunately, passed away the November before. She was not only a leader, scholar, and a dedicated member of her community. I was honored to have been recognized by those closest to her and this motivated me to pursue my work in race relations and continue. There are many moments where I was discouraged or disheartened to pursue my work, but I kept on sticking to my mission and I knew that the work I was doing was meaningful, even when it was hard. Thus, I was very humbled to be recognized this year by the organization. What was most important to me was not that I personally was recognized, but that work in race relations was being celebrated and honored. I hope it encourages others like me to actively continue working to improve race relations in our community because while it can be difficult, it is so important for the bettering of our local and national community.
Where will you be going to college?
What will you be majoring in?
Anthropology (on a pre-med track)
What are your thoughts on having to finish your Senior year during this extraordinary time?
Definitely disappointed. I think especially as Senior Class President, so many of the activities that we are unable to have like prom or graduation have been planned so long in advance. Whether that is choosing a theme or fundraising, it is slightly disheartening because nobody wants to ensure my class has a great end to their high school experience more than I do. So much of the high school experience is built around those moments, but at the end of the day our safety and health come first. I know our class will be stronger for it, however, and seize every moment to live each day with intention and gratitude.
Has the pandemic changed your outlook?
It has definitely reminded me how much of a gift every single day is. I am very glad that I took advantage of the moments of senior year earlier on (like homecoming) instead of just holding off my experiences for this part of the year because none of it is guaranteed. I am working to stop delaying satisfaction or gratitude or happiness but treat every day like a gift. In short, I am trying to embody the phrase: carpe diem.
How do you keep in touch with your friends amidst COVID-19?
ZOOM! I check in on my close friends frequently and we have game nights or movie nights virtually. We FaceTime a ton and try to make time in our weeks to catch up since we aren't able to talk in school as frequently as we used to.
What do you do for fun?
I love hanging out with my friends and baking! I love going out to eat to try new foods and I especially like bubble tea. I also love trying to pick up new hobbies and skills like painting or learning a new language. I have a podcast too so I brainstorm new episodes whenever I can.
Any thoughts on what you’d like to become following college graduation?
I am interested in studying medical anthropology and global health. I believe that anthropology and medicine go hand-in-hand as
he social and cultural environment in which one lives can contribute just as much to illness as physiological elements. Specifically, I aim to work at the World Health Organization in the future. I am extremely fascinated by global
health and have witnessed firsthand the consequences of unequal and inadequate
access to medical resources which is prominent all over the globe.
Now there's a "change agent" if ever there was one. Great selection, Coke and Princeton. From all of us in Palmetto Bay, congratulations Aisha. You make us proud.
Below: The 2020 Coke Scholars met virtually on April 16th, the night originally scheduled for their congratulatory banquet in Atlanta.