By Todd Martin

Special to the Daily Herald

From lazy and unmotivated, Shoemaker High School senior Skylie Hingle became a Dell Scholar.

As a freshman, she said she wasn't excited about school, but seven years in Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, helped her see the purpose in working hard in school and filling out the numerous forms to apply for colleges and scholarships.

The effort paid off big time this spring when Hingle found out she won one of 300 Dell Scholarships nationwide, winning $20,000 for college tuition, as well as a laptop computer and printer.

The money will essentially pay her way to Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi, where she will study marine biology.

She gave a lot of credit to her senior year AVID teacher Central Hicks and her AVID teacher last year Julia Mallet.

The scholarship requires recipients to maintain a high grade-point average, which was never a problem for Hingle. She also had to complete several essays describing hardships and aspirations.

Mallet told her a year ago that she was a good candidate for the award, so Hingle got busy working on her applications and writing up her experiences.

She wrote about life as a military dependant. Her dad, Everett McClinton, recently returned from deployment. Her mother, Shelley McClinton, surprised her three children with his return just a few weeks before graduation.

Growing up, she became accustomed to her dad spending time deployed to combat or training in the field. He also spent a year in Korea.

She described difficult early years struggling to become independent from her mother before growing very close, as well as bickering with younger siblings. She also wrote about maintaining a job in high school to help pay expenses.

Taking the AVID class while at Live Oak Ridge Middle School and Shoemaker High School provided the student needed motivation. She learned about staying organized, being professional, social skills and meeting deadlines for assignments and scholarship applications.

"It's helped me a lot," she said of AVID. "It's helped my GPA learning testing strategies and working on projects and how to be professional."

When she found out she won the Dell Scholarship, she said she started screaming. Her mother, little brother and sister and her AVID teacher who she called joined in the celebration.

"I don't want my mom spending all her money on college for me," she said, explaining that she applied for as many scholarships as she could and received more than the Dell Scholarship.

Hicks, in his first year teaching senior AVID students, said he was ecstatic when Hingle won the award.

"She is a great young lady, a role model," he said. "She tries hard to do her best and learns from her mistakes. I'm glad she followed through. She followed through strongly."

It's been a good year for AVID students at Shoemaker.

Hicks said he challenged his seniors to earn more scholarships than the previous class, which accumulated about $600,000 in scholarships. This year's group did that by $1 million, earning more than $1.6 million in scholarship money.

Just as exciting, said Hicks, is that all 43 seniors in the AVID program at Shoemaker received acceptance letters from colleges. A wall outside the classroom is covered with some of those letters.

"They go from 'I don't know if anyone will want me' to 'I have four acceptance letters, where should I go,'" Hicks explained.

The wall of acceptance letters has drawn some interest in the Shoemaker High School hallways. Hicks said some of his students have brought their friends to him to help them get help to begin planning for their future.

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