Panther Creek High School student earns National Merit Scholarship

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Panther Creek High School student Akhila Koripella earned a prestigious National Merit Scholarship to the University of Texas at Dallas.

It was announced Friday during a ceremony at the high school in Cary. Students at the school received nearly $4 million in scholarships combined.

"I'm so, just, proud to show my mom that after all the hard work that I put in, that I can get the results that I wanted," Koripella said.

She's maintained a high GPA, all while battling Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a connective tissue disorder.

"I just inadvertently tear my ligaments without knowing so that keeps me in inadvertent, constant pain all the time," Koripella said.

"With all the pain, the girl will sit in her bed and continue doing her work," said her mother, Nirmala Koripella.

"She has worked hard. She has overcome significant challenges to get where she is and that's been recognized by Texas," said Dr. Camille Hedrick, Principal of Panther Creek High School. "She has strong academics, strong community service."

Koripella's sister, Ananya Koripella, also took the stage in Cary, presenting a scholarship to a future student at her school, East Carolina University.

"Both daughters being there on the stage is amazing," said Nirmala Koripella.

The sisters say it's their mom who inspires them, raising them as a single parent. She has them look at their vision boards every day, so they stay focused on their goals.

"She's made sure that we're strong, independent and motivated and we can do whatever it is we set our minds to," Ananya Koripella said.

"I can't put it in words," said Akilah Koripella, who hopes to become a CPA or actuarial scientist. "I really can't. I just owe everything to her."
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