GULFPORT (FOX 13) - Seventeen-year-old Angelika Morris is driven and determined. She is a natural born doer.
"You can't make excuses for yourself," she said resolutely, "That's pretty much the rule I live by."
She's the valedictorian at Boca Ciega High School and headed for the school of her dreams.
A few weeks ago, she was at Duke for a recruiting weekend of fun. She had an acceptance letter already in hand. But Angelika had her heart set on another school.
That very weekend, she got the news that she had been accepted.
"I called my mom, it was the middle of the night, and I was like "I'm going to go to Princeton!" she recalled, smiling.
Princeton University. Ivy league.
She really loves Duke, she said, but had to say yes to Princeton. —What a choice, right?
It's the kind of success her mom Dorothy worked so hard to give her, both in the lessons she taught and the example she set.
"My mom was the second African American to graduate with a degree in speech pathology at [University of Florida], so she felt like as a black woman I should strive and do more and be the best I can be," Angelika told FOX 13.
Angelika wants to be a doctor one day, a reconstructive surgeon.
While most of her friends were fretting in the IB program in high school, Angelika chose a path that gave her real world experience, and even made it fun: the medical program in the technical school at Boca Ciega.
"A lot of people that apply to college do the IB, and it's a great program. But for me it was too intense. A lot of my friends who were in it always seemed stressed, whereas the medical program was more based on student involvement and just enjoying high school," she explained.
She may look at it that way now, but it wasn't always that way. Angelika was homeschooled until the sixth grade. The last two years she taught herself and her younger brother.
But while academically, she was ahead of her classmates; socially, she felt isolated.
"I was different, and kids noticed I was different. However, I didn't let that stop me," she told Fox 13's Laura Moody, "It made me put all my energy into school work even if I didn't socialize, I had more time to study."
But in the 10th grade, she came to "Bogie", as she calls it, and found an inclusive environment that helped her thrive.
Soon, she had friends, a boyfriend, and she even joined the track team.
"I never thought I would do sports, especially running," she laughed, "I remember I couldn't even run a mile. It was like 17 minute miles, literally walking."
Like most things, she worked hard and found success. It seems to find her really, in fact. She has a 4.8 GPA, and humbly admits she has never even gotten a "B".
But if it seems to come easy, think again.
"It takes a lot of work," she said with a smile, "I don't think I'm naturally smart or special. I just work hard. It's just my work ethic."
And that's why Angelika Morris is our Good Day Grad.