Here is a list of this year's Passport Scholars, their high schools and what programs they will attend this summer:
• Kailey Bowman, Red Bank High School, Jump Start program in criminology, Xavier University
• Shania Douglas, East Ridge High, SuperScholar EXCEL program, Xavier University of Louisiana
• Joanna Hernandez, East Ridge High, Summer theater camp, Texas State University
• Cassandra McAllister, East Hamilton High, Smith Science and Engineering, Smith University
• A. Mikaela Nunley, Hixson High, Summer Scholars Academy, Texas Lutheran University
• Katherine Staten Sneed, Red Bank High, Acadia Institute of Oceanography
• LaDeja Thirkill, Brainerd High, Explore-A-College program, Earlham College
• Sheyenne Williams, Soddy-Daisy High, Adventures in Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University
• Angelia Umbreit, Howard School, Explore-A-College program, Earlham College
A summer program in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park gave city girl Keylee Jones much more than just an education in the outdoors.
"What I took from it is that there is a lot out there about the world that I haven't experienced yet," she said. "It just opened my eyes to how much I was missing out on and it showed me how far I actually can go. I don't have to limit myself."
Jones, now a freshman at Denison University planning on becoming a doctor, was one of several students selected for the Public Education Foundation's Passport Scholars, which funds summer educational trips for female Hamilton County high school sophomores. Organizers hope the program will give students a leg up on college preparation and begin to give them a view of life outside Chattanooga.
And with the announcement of the most recent class of Passport Scholars, PEF will send area girls to camps and programs across the country for free this summer to study oceanography, criminology and theater, among other disciplines.
Stacy Lightfoot, PEF's vice president of college and career success, said the summer programs, most academically rigorous, will help students prepare for college. But the opportunity also sparks personal change for the girls, many of whom enter with little exposure to the outside world and return with confidence and independence.
"It opens doors for these girls," Lightfoot said. "You have quiet, shy girls who come back and are very talkative and comfortable with themselves."
The summer experiences cost about $5,000 each, and Lightfoot said most students would not be able to afford them without Passport Scholars.
Soddy-Daisy High sophomore Sheyenne Williams will attend a veterinary science program at Tufts University this summer. She said she has always connected easily with animals and has wanted to be a vet since she can remember.
"I'm ecstatic," she said about the program. "I feel really blessed to have an opportunity to travel anywhere, no matter where it is, and go to a college to do what I love."
The Passport Scholars program helps match girls with programs that explore their interests. Afterward, they receive mentorship throughout high school and college.
Williams said she wouldn't have known about Tufts' program for high schoolers. In fact, she hadn't even heard of Tufts University before her selection to the Passport Scholars program.
"I wouldn't have even thought about it," she said.