Duke University’s Student of the Month
When Jeliyah Clark smiles, she lights up the room.
And Clark, a senior at Hillside New Tech High School, has plenty to smile about these days.
Clark sports a 4.8 weighted GPA and has already been accepted to UNC-Chapel Hill, where she plans to study public health.
So, for a 17-year-old preparing to leave home for the first time, but not too far, life is pretty good.
Clark is also interested in making life better for others.
She plans to study public health and biology, and eventually hopes to work on reforms in the health care industry to make health care more accessible to poor people.
“I feel that people who are less fortunate don’t have the same access to health care and healthy eating options as those who are more fortunate,” Clark said.
Her decision to major in public health and biology is a deeply personal one.
She’s motivated by the death of an older sister, TeKarolyn Murphy, who died at age 2 of neuroblastoma, a rare type of childhood cancer that develops in infants and young children.
At the time, Clark said her mother didn’t have the financial resources to seek the best medical care.
“I feel like the outcome might have been different had she had better access to medical care,” Clark said. “I just want to speak out and be the voice for people who don’t have the ability to [speak for themselves].”
In addition to being a great student in the classroom, Clark is active in French Club, National Honor Society and Ladies of Kappa League.
She said the French Club is raising money for a trip to Paris this summer.
Clark is also an avid blogger and photographer, and has turned her passion for photography into a business.
She uses the money that she makes taking photographs to help her church in Wallace pay the mortgage on the building.
Carol Clark, Jeliyah’s mother, who works at Hillside New Tech, said her daughter has always gone above and beyond what’s expected.
“She doesn’t settle for anything less,” Carol Clark said.
She noted that Jeliyah got really upset after receiving a 92 in a course.
“She works for perfection,” Clark said.
School: Hillside New Tech High School
School Activities: French Club, National Honor Society and Ladies of Kappa League.
Favorite Books: “The Book of Proverbs” in the Bible and “Nervous Condition” by Zimbabwean author Tsitisi Dangarembga
Favorite Food: Brownies
Favorite Music: ’90s R&B