Metro Atlanta teen 1 of 7 Georgia finalists for prestigious Coke Scholarship

Gwinnett senior reaches final stages for prestigious Coca-Cola scholarship

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — A high school senior from Gwinnett County has reached the finals for a prestigious college scholarship -- and he had to beat out nearly 100,000 fellow students to get this far.

Channel 2′s Berndt Petersen was in Lawrenceville, where 18-year-old Jamal Sayid said he has been working to become the Coca-Cola scholar since he was in 6th grade. The Grayson High School senior is now one of only seven students from Georgia to reach the final round.

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Sayid has already been honored with the President’s Volunteer Service award with a medal, which is granted to people who put 250 hours into helping others. Sayid has been volunteering for a long list of nonprofits since he was 11 years old. He also formed his own, the Global Diversity and Awareness Club.

Sayid said he plans to become an attorney and carry on the work. The Coca-Cola scholarship would help fund his education.

“It’s truly nerve-racking, just seeing how much is on the line here, because being a Coke Scholar is a true achievement,” Sayid said. “It was just honestly surreal. I just couldn’t even imagine I’d come this far, to be honest.”

Sayid said he was inspired to work on diversity and inclusion issues by his hero, the late Congressman John Lewis.

“Just be more accepting overall,” Sayid said. “By doing that, the world can truly be more unified and we can have a brighter future for all going forward.”

Sayid has already been accepted by Rice University in Houston. The final decision for the Coke Scholarship comes on March 12.