by Lisa Tome
After five years, Bethany Wilson still remembers that "B" she got on her third grade report card.
That grade stands out for Wilson, an eighth grader at Rising Sun Middle School, because she's earned all As for the rest of her school career.
Those exemplary grades and a commitment to serving the community in many ways have earned Wilson her fourth consecutive Carson Scholar designation.
Wilson collected her first honor as a fifth grader at Rising Sun Elementary.
She also earned a $1,000 scholarship that she will use for college.
Dr. Ben Carson is a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and has directed neurosurgery at John's Hopkins Children's Hospital. Each year, the Carson Fund honors the best and the brightest. Carson Scholars must have a grade point average of at least 3.75. They must also display humanitarian qualities by performing community service.
For Wilson, earning the honor is a great motivator.
"It makes me happy. My teachers all know it (that she is a Carson Scholar) and they expect more," said Wilson. She said that her classmates also ask about the award and said she explains the criteria.
Things have changed for Wilson in the time since she first applied for the award. As a fifth grader, she aspired to be a pediatric nurse. Now, she dreams of becoming a pediatric surgeon.
She fulfills the community service aspect of the award in many ways. She is a member of the Kids of the Future 4-H Club and performs service through that organization. "We do a lot. We made Valentine's for (residents at) Calvert Manor," she said. She also works dishing up ice cream for fair attendees.
Within the school, she is a member of the National Junior Honor Society. With that group, she has worked to raise money to build awareness about Down's Syndrome. She also plans to be a tutor/mentor within the school. She is part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the school yearbook staff. She plays softball in Rising Sun Little League.
She, along with parents Melissa and Jeff of Conowingo, also volunteer at Plumpton Park Zoo at least once a month. The family members muck stalls, clear walking trails, or do whatever is needed.
"It's really lucky. My schedule works out so I have one thing every day of the week," said Wilson. She also said homework is her top priority. "That's the first thing I do after school."
She has made the school proud, explained the principal.
"A lot of really excellent students apply for the Carson Scholarship. They look closely at the community service piece," said Rick Edwards, principal at Rising Sun Middle School. "I'm very proud of Bethany. She is a good all around student and a nice kid."