SPRINGFIELD — April Moss, an Effingham County High School junior, has been rewarded for her inquisitiveness.
The aspiring doctor recently became one of only 477 students in the nation to be named a 2020 Carson Scholar. All received a $1,000 scholarship in recognition of their outstanding academic and humanitarian achievements.
The Carson Scholars Fund was established in 1994 by Dr. Ben Carson, the former world-renowned neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins University who currently serves in President Trump’s administration as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
Carson’s medical achievements include the only successful separation of conjoined twins connected at the back of the head and the first successful neurosurgical procedure on a fetus inside the womb.
“I used to want to be a neurosurgeon so that fact that he was a neurosurgeon really inspired me,” Moss said.
Carson and his wife, Candy, set up his scholarship fund out of concern for the United States’ poor standing in science and math education. They were also motivated by the observation that many schools’ display cases were filled with sports trophies while honor students only received a pin or certificate in recognition of their achievements.
In addition to a $1,000 scholarship invested toward a four-year college or university, Carson Scholars receive an Olympic-sized medal and certificate and an invitation to be honored at a regional banquet. Their schools also receive a trophy in their honor.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a virtual awards ceremony was conducted in May.
Moss, the first student in the Effingham County School District to be named a Carson Scholar, was recommended for the scholarship by Virginia Higgs, her Honors World History teacher.
Moss had to provide a transcript of her grades, write an essay and a report on her community service activities. Her community service activities included a book collection drive and a hot chocolate mix donation for needy children.
“I also had to answer five short questions,” Moss said.
According to Higgs, Moss is usually on the asking end of questions.
“She is constantly working on ways to improve her self and asking lots and lots of questions,” Higgs said. “But they are good questions. They aren’t frivolous. They pertain to the information.
“She is curious about what is the next step or what is coming next.”
Higgs mentioned other Moss attributes.
“Dependability,” she said. “That is one of the things that I can count on about her — to do the right thing at the right time. She is very self-motivated.
“... She is genuinely curious about everything.”
Moss said she doesn’t find any subject boring.
“It’s more like some appeal to me more than others,” she explained.
Moss credited her mother, Aurelia, for her fostering her yearning to learn.
“She is definitely very encouraging,” she said.
Moss’ essay was about American abolitionist and political activist Harriet Tubman.
“I aspire to be as courageous and empower as Mrs. Tubman was and I plan to use her admirable qualities now and later in my life to help achieve the goals that I have set ...,” the essay says at the end.
Carson Scholar eligibility requirements are:
— Students must be enrolled in grades 4-11 at an accredited school in the United States
— Unless otherwise told by Carson Scholarship Fund staff, only one student from each school can be nominated
— Students must exemplify academic excellence (minimum 3.75 GPA on 4.0 scale for current year’s report card)
— Students must display strong humanitarian qualities beyond what is required in school
Moss became her school’s nominee after emerging from an arduous committee selection process. The committee had several quality applications to consider.
In a letter of support for Moss, Effingham County English Arts teacher Pamela Richards said, “Good people are hard to find; however, April is exceptional, a true gem, and she is already impacting the world for the better. You will not be disappointed in this choice. Your investment in her will be returned with interest.”
After she graduates from Effingham County, Moss plans to attend Wake Forest, Emory or Duke. He career goal is to become a surgeon who specializes in the heart and lungs. She got to hold a heart, lungs and other human innards when she attended a 4-H camp as a seventh grader.
“The heart and lungs are so intriguing to me,” she said.