Valedictorian from Pahokee High going to Duke

Posted at 5:46 PM, May 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-13 17:46:58-04

A small town girl has some big dreams.

Ashley Wilson is about to graduate from Pahokee High School.

She is the valedictorian of her class, graduating with a 4.0 GPA.

Ashley is one of 1,700 people accepted into Duke University this fall. School officials say at least 32,000 people applied for a spot in the freshman class.

Ashley visited the campus in March.

"When I first got there, I had a tingly feeling. I don't know how to explain it. It was amazing," she said.

Ashley is going to Duke with a full scholarship. She said the school costs $70,000 a year to attend.

She said she wants to study biology and aspires to be a trauma surgeon.

"In a trauma room, you never know what is going to come in. It's always different and I like that. I like challenges so having a different challenge every day is everything," she said.

Ashley and her siblings are the first in her family to go away to college and get a degree. She said she plans on working hard throughout her time in college and hopes to one day give back to the community where she grew up.

Ashley said she wants to open a free health care clinic in the Glades community, and also start up a mentoring program for young girls in western Palm Beach County.

"I always think you should always give back to where you come from. So, even if I don't want to come back to live here, I know that I do want to come back to make influences because a lot of people in my life have given back to me so it's only right that I give back and influence future lives," she said.

One of those who has influenced Ashley is her math teacher, Gregory Maxwell.

"When she came into 10th grade in pre-calculus, I saw she was a serious worker. So I challenged her, I pushed her a lot, I didn't allow any excuses and when we set the bar higher, she met that standard and so on," he said.

Gregory said Ashley has helped others excel in class as well.

"A lot of her classmates do better in math because she's doing better in math--- because she sets the example," he said.

Ashley had other options for college, but said Duke was her top choice.

She also got accepted into the University of Florida, the University of Miami and the University of Notre Dame.