November 30, 2020

Outstanding Student: Nellie Onugha

2.5 min read| Published On: November 30th, 2020|

By James Combs

Outstanding Student: Nellie Onugha

2.5 min read| Published On: November 30th, 2020|

LMHS scholar and athlete sprints toward career in medicine. 

Photo: Nicole Hamel

Vital stats:

  • Graduated from Lake Minneola High School in 2020.
  • Finished high school with a weighted 5.08 grade-point average.
  • Freshman at the University of South Florida.

What activities were you involved in during high school? I ran track all four years and I was a member of the Key Club, Varsity Club, National Honor Society, and Student Government Association (SGA).

What track events did you compete in? I mostly did the 200-meter dash and the 4×400 relay. My best time in the 200-meter dash was 27.6 seconds.

Do you have any idols in track and field? I really like Allyson Felix. She had a baby, then jumped right back into track and is doing amazing. For a male idol, I like Tyson Gay. He has a daughter around my age and is still running and working hard. He’s very inspirational. 

Why did you choose to attend USF? It was always on my radar because my dad is an alumnus. I was also considering UF, but the truth is Tampa has always been my second home because I have family down there. Plus, USF offered me some good scholarships. 

Speaking of scholarships, I understand you received a $10,000 scholarship from Project Scholars, a nonprofit organization in Clermont? Yes, and I also received a Bright Futures scholarship. I feel very fortunate. 

Getting accepted into college is competitive these days. What advice would you give students? You can’t just get by doing the bare minimum. You have to put the work and effort into everything you do. 

What are you going to major in? I am going to major in psychology on the pre-med track.

Why psychology? Both my parents are in the medical field and so are my cousins. I’ve grown up around medicine. As far as psychology, I’ve always had an interest in mental health. 

What do you do in Tampa when you want to temporarily escape the college life? I love walking downtown at night with friends. The Tampa Riverwalk is beautiful. 

Give me two words that best describe yourself: Determined and conscious. 

What is one of the most embarrassing things to ever happen to you? My school had a sand pit with monkey bars over it. When I was in third grade, I got on the monkey bars and fell. My face was covered in sand, and I could not see. My teacher laughed. I’ll never forget that.

Please tell me your generation’s greatest strength: We are very aware. With the internet we have information available at our fingertips. We’re more aware of everything that’s happening. 

Your generation is known for its love of social media. Do you view Facebook as a social media platform for older people? I honestly do. I made a page a long time ago but have no reason to go back on because none of my peers are on Facebook. The ones I use most are Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. 

Favorite holiday? Christmas. I love getting and giving gifts. It’s such a nice time. 

Favorite Christmas memory? In 2017, my brother and I saved up enough money to buy my mother a heart necklace with engraving on it. She was so surprised when she opened it. 

If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be? Rihanna. She seems like a really cool person. I know I would enjoy her presence. 

How can you change the world? Kindness. Just telling someone they look good can make their day. A small compliment goes a long way in helping people feel better about themselves. Let’s work on spreading love and kindness. 

About the Author: James Combs

Akers Media Group's James Combs has been a staff writer for several local publications since August 2000. He has had the privilege of interviewing some of Lake County's many fascinating residents—from innovative business owners to heroic war veterans—and bringing their stories to life. A resident of Lake County since 1986, James recently embarked on a journey to lead a healthier lifestyle. He has lost 60 pounds and walks nearly five miles a day. In his spare time, he enjoys target shooting, skeet shooting and watching his beloved Kentucky Wildcats!

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