by Katelyn Heck, 13WMAZ.com
- Ashley Washington has a 4.0 GPA and is bound for Brown University where she'll study to become a bilingual neonatologist.
- The Central High senior has been awarded scholarships for $1000, $240,000 and another for $250,000.
- Washington says she's inspired and motivated by her mother who raised her in a single-parent home despite fighting serious illnesses.
Ashley Washington, a senior at Central High, already has her college tuition covered -- and then some.
This year, she won the Golden Eagle award in foreign language, a $1,000 prize.
In April, we reported that Washington was one of three Central students to receive $250,000 as Gates Millennium Scholars. The program awarded the scholarships to only 1,000 students around the country on the merit of their classwork and community service.
Washington also picked up $240,000 as a QuestBridge National College Match recipient. According to their website, "QuestBridge students are exceptional individuals who have achieved academic excellence in spite of socio-economic obstacles."
That scholarship, intended to place "the world's brightest low-income students with America's best universities," will go toward her tuition at Brown University.
Washington plans to double-major in biology and Spanish to become a bilingual neonatologist, helping newborn babies with serious health issues.
Those who know her have no doubt she'll succeed.
"If the past is any indication, I would say she can do anything she wants to," says Central High Spanish teacher Marcia Wright.
Washington says she earned her accolades by studying hard in class, but the hardest test she faced was at home.
Her mother, Veronica Jackson, suffered through a series of hospital visits.
"In 2003, I was told by Emory Hospital that I would be paralyzed and I would never walk again, and that was really hard on the family," Jackson says. "She was a young girl. Just seeing her mom in and out of the hospital, a month here, a month there."
Jackson regained the strength to walk again after several doctor's visits.
"That kind of motivated me in a way and just striving on and bring the best that I could be," says Washington. "My mom has always been there to encourage me, and even if I messed up on something, she would say, 'Well, did you do your best?'"
That mentality helped Washington set her goals high despite the challenges of growing up in a single-parent, low-income home.
"If you strive for it, anything is possible. If you set your mind to it, no one can tell you that you can't do anything," she says.
To prove it, Washington will graduate Friday with a 4.0 grade point average.