Living her dream


DeAdria Hilliard, a senior at Buchholz High School, is this year's recipient of the Edna M. Hart Keeper of the Dream Award from the MLK Commission.

TIM HUSSIN/ Special to The Sun
Published: Sunday, January 14, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 14, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.
DeAdria Hilliard is proof that dreams come true.
A senior at Buchholz High School, Hilliard takes Advanced Placement courses and maintains a 4.56 weighted grade point average; she's a member of the National Honor Society and student government, among other clubs; she plays for her school's volleyball team and is point guard for its basketball team; and she volunteers extensively in the community.
The cheerful 18-year-old is the recipient of the 2007 Edna M. Hart Keeper of the Dream Award, a scholarship awarded each year by the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida in celebration of King Week. She'll speak at the Downtown Community Plaza Monday at noon for King Week's holiday kick-off program.
Add preparing for her first speech since eighth-grade graduation to Hilliard's long list of responsibilities.
"I'm never bored," she says, flashing an infectious, megawatt smile.
Her involvement doesn't come at the expense of her studies. Hilliard describes her commitment to homework as obsessive-compulsive - during midterms and finals, her parents, Ralph and Phyllis Hilliard, sometimes call her cell phone to get her out of her room and away from her books to eat dinner.
"I guess you call it a nerd, I don't know," she says.
If so, being nerdy has paid off. Marilyn Booher, Hilliard's 11th-grade honors chemistry teacher, describes her as a solid student, a good leader and a great candidate for the Keeper of the Dream Award.
"I'm just really happy for her," says Booher, who sees Hilliard regularly despite no longer being her teacher. "I like to see nice kids do well."
Hilliard applied for the award after hearing about it from last year's recipient, Kendra Grimes. Both attend Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church.
"I just wanted to give it a try," Hilliard says. "I didn't think I would win."
Rodney Long, president of the MLK Commission, says Hilliard exemplifies principles espoused by King such as service and community involvement, which is why she was selected for the $2,500-minimum scholarship that was first awarded in 1989. It's a role the native Gainesvillian takes seriously.
"It's really great because it means I'm helping keep his dream alive," Hilliard says. "I'm a living example of what his dream was for kids my age."
Hilliard credits much of her success to her family. Mom, a school psychologist, has always pushed her to do well in the classroom; Dad, city planning manager, makes her laugh to keep the stress off; twin sister Deirdre and 25-year-old sister Tamesha stand ready to lend an ear and some advice.
Hilliard is currently applying to the University of Florida, University of South Florida and Florida International University, but both she and teammate Deirdre are hoping for basketball scholarships. Already Brown, Yale and Princeton are among the schools expressing interest.
"I just want to go where I'm going to get the best opportunity, the best experience," says Hilliard, who plans to major in biology and become an anesthesiologist.
Her success doesn't seem to surprise anyone.
"They couldn't give it to a better kid," says Darlene Skidmore, a volunteer receptionist at Buchholz, about the award. "She's a great girl."
Sarah Stewart can be reached at 338-3103 or Sarah.Stewart@gvillesun.com.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top