By Anthony Richards
Earning a scholarship to help pay for college is always a big deal but being one of 15 students in the nation to receive one makes it even more memorable.
That is what Ponte Vedra High senior Anna Grace Keller felt when she first heard the news that she had been decided as a 2022 Cameron Impact Scholar by the Bryan Cameron Foundation.
Keller missed the first call with the news because she was in class, but the phone rang again when she got home, and she was filled with joy that all her dedication was coming to fruition.
“I didn’t even know how to respond, expect to scream,” Keller chuckled. “It’s super affirming because I’ve worked hard throughout my high school career. It was just good to hear a ‘yes.’”
It was the sixth class of scholarships awarded by the foundation, which was established in 2015. Keller was the lone recipient from Florida.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Anna Grace join our family of Cameron Impact Scholars,” said Amie Lucas, Bryan Cameron Foundation executive director. “She has such a bright future ahead of her and has the potential to really positively impact so many.”
She initially heard about the foundation’s scholarship program from PVHS alum and family friend Harrison Snowden, who had been a past scholarship recipient.
“I put out an application in the summer, which is available for juniors, and it was a pretty lengthy essay process,” Keller said.
She heard she was a finalist in October and that she was among the recipients in mid-December.
The process included a variety of short- and long-form essays, and applicants were also asked to describe themselves in the length of a tweet.
“I thought that (the tweet) was really cool,” Keller said. “The process started before I started doing my college essays, so it was good practice and really got the brain juices flowing.”
It is a full-merit scholarship that Keller is open to use toward tuition at the college of her choosing.
Keller thanked her time at Ponte Vedra High for helping lay the foundation and prepare her for what the future holds.
“Ponte Vedra has been a great school, and I’ve personally found that I love it,” Keller said. “It’s definitely a competitive environment but I seem to thrive off that. The biggest thing that separates Ponte Vedra is the student-teacher relationships and how they are so accessible. They are free to encourage creative thought and not just stick to curriculum, which I like because it is more application-based.”
According to Keller, she was one of about 2,700 applicants in the process this year, which was narrowed down to 100 finalists before choosing the final 15.
Each year the foundation holds an in-person banquet. This year it is in Atlanta and will take place in April.
“The tuition is obviously great, but parallel to that, I’m also really excited to see the network of people that you meet,” Keller said.
It is not the first scholarship that Keller has received, having also been awarded an Army ROTC scholarship.
“I’m hoping to go into college and do Army ROTC and train with my battalion,” Keller said. “I want to major in biological sciences on a pre-med track. It totally seems to fit my path, because I love service and having a deeper purpose than just learning biology.”
Keller applied to the University of Notre Dame, where her sister already attends, and has been notified that she got in. She expects to hear back from the other college applications by late March or early April.
“My parents have been instrumental in encouraging me to apply for these things,” Keller said. “They’ve always told me to ‘just go for it.'”