Ashley Fernandez's teachers describe her as a student who has "risen to the occasion" academically.

The Roosevelt High School junior is part of the school's Smart Scholars Program, which offers college courses in partnership with SUNY Old Westbury. Students also attend a weekly class at the college's greenhouse and science lab.

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Fernandez, as part of the program, contributed earlier in the school year to a herbarium project in which students collected leaf specimens from across the college campus, to identify and preserve them. She also is among about 20 presenters at an upcoming STEM Diversity Summit at Farmingdale State College. (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.)

"It was a very interesting, different experience," said Fernandez, 17. Of the program's benefit, she said: "We're receiving college credit and already have a feel of what college is like."

Fernandez, who said she will be the first person in her family to attend college, recently was featured for her efforts on Early College High School Week on The NYCAN blog -- the blog of New York Campaign for Achievement Now. She plans to study nursing at Adelphi University this fall.

She is on the high school's high honor roll and is a member of the National Honor Society and the varsity soccer team.