A few summers ago, Tiana Hudson-Jerman willingly stood outside in 90-degree temperatures, dressed in full-body football gear and a helmet.
It was the first day of tryouts for junior varsity football at Uniondale High School, and she was the only girl vying for a spot on the team.
Sweat was pouring down her face, and all the equipment was weighing her down. But Hudson-Jerman was determined to start her sophomore year with a spot on the team, so she endured two weeks of tryouts, which included practices twice a day and gentle teasing from the boys, who Hudson-Jerman said were never mean but did joke that they didn't think she would make it through tryouts.
She proved them wrong and made the team, becoming the squad's kicker; made history as the first girl on the school's junior varsity team; and made herself an unintended role model.
Jonathan Jefferson, Uniondale High's athletic director, said her coaches remarked that Hudson-Jerman never missed a practice and was an "example for the other athletes on the team of what they expected as far as hard work and dedication."
"She was by far the most dedicated player on the team," Jefferson added.
Hudson-Jerman, 18, of Uniondale, said she had wanted to play football since middle school. That year she tried out was when she finally had the time and asked her father -- not mom -- for permission to play. She chose seven as her jersey number because she said she liked that number. Her mother said no to trying out for the varsity squad, but Hudson-Jerman's athletic pursuits didn't end with JV football; she is also on the track team.
And she has excelled beyond the sports arena. Hudson-Jerman is ranked in the top 10 percent of her class and has taken several Advanced Placement courses, including physics, biology, language and history, according to her guidance counselor, Lexoune Marcellin.
"One thing that stood out to me about her is the fact that she is very ambitious, but if you put aside all the extracurricular activities that she has participated in and all the classes that she's advanced in, she's a very nice person . . . and always willing to help," Marcellin said.
Hudson-Jerman will attend the University of Miami this fall, where she said she's most looking forward to "just being able to have that freedom."
She plans to major in biology and minor in business and then go to medical school to study anesthesiology.
"I just like to help people, and particularly, I really don't like seeing people in pain and I don't like seeing people suffering," Hudson-Jerman said.
This summer she will again participate in Hofstra's Medical Scholars Pipeline Program, which has allowed her to get hands-on experience in various medical concentrations. Last year, Hudson-Jerman said, she examined cadavers, learned how to do sutures and shadowed doctors.
But her interests don't stop there. She also loves to bake -- red velvet cake is her favorite -- and likes comic books and animé. And she is in the marching band.
"It's often the case where a student takes a lot of courses or is involved in a lot of extracurricular activities because it looks good for college and everything," said Adam Bowman, Hudson-Jerman's English teacher. "That's not the case with Tiana."
What makes you extraordinary
"I am involved in a lot of different things. I think it is good to occupy your time . . . it lets you experience new things, as well."