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Rockdale News Community Spirit Award: Salem senior gives back with heart

When Monisha Scott heard her name called at the Salem High School honors night as the winner of the Rockdale News Community Spirit Award, she was so shocked she was unable to move.

"I stood up and I tried to walk, and my legs just stopped. I just burst out in tears," said the sweet spirited senior. "I did not expect that at all."

Scott was chosen because of her selfless heart, positive attitude and her involvement in activities to help others and improve the community in general, said counselor Dana Knight-Malone.

Scott moved to Georgia in the eighth grade, under difficult circumstances, after her grandmother, who had raised her, passed away. But she did not let adversity slow her down. She quickly became involved in many school activities to help out the community at Memorial Middle School, motivating her fellow students to donate for other students in need a program called "Cash for the Caring." At Salem, she became a peer leader, a trained mediator, was involved in the first SADD chapter at Salem as the club historian and took a lead role in the "Stand up to Bullying" day, where students pledged to take a stand against bullying. She was also organized a campaign to alert students and adults to the dangers of texting while driving.

Scott will attend Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, FAMU, in Tallahassee, Fla., in the fall and plans to study psychology and social work. Her dream is to eventually open her own foundation and group home for teenagers.

"I had a life that most kids would have given up on," she said, pausing and searching for the words. "I feel like I know how it feels like coming from somewhere and having to work hard to get somewhere.

"It was hard, but I've made it. And most people thought I wouldn't, or they doubted me. But I had a lot of people supporting me also along the way. So I want to help someone else. I want to give it back."

Besides, she added, "I like putting a smile on someone's face."