MACON, Ga. — In a classroom full of Howard High School students, Zach Ferguson's teachers say he's a standout, but he wouldn't tell you that himself.
"I was very impressed with his quiet leadership. When he would work in groups, he didn't draw attention to himself, but he always came out to be a leader," English teacher Melinda Powell said.
"I was very surprised that this shy student had so much maturity in how he could conduct himself in an interview, and it just blew me away," Future Business Leaders of America Advisor Morgan Jarvis said.
"I take my academics very seriously. I always, no matter what the homework assignment is or a test or a quiz, I try to always do my best and apply myself," Ferguson said.
He applied to be a QuestBridge Scholar to give himself the best chance at a scholarship to a prestigious university.
"I had heard about Notre Dame since elementary school, like how good of a school it was, so I did more research online and then I visited this last summer going into senior year," Ferguson said.
He used money from his summer job to buy a plane ticket for his visit in July.
On Monday, he found out his 4.0 GPA, high SAT score and extracurricular activities earned him a full-ride to his dream school.
"I saw it popped up and said, 'Congratulations,' and I just didn't believe it at first -- I kind of stared and then I ran downstairs and told my mom and my grandma," he said.
He says a free college education feels like a win for both him and his mother.
"I lived in a single-mother home and it was just me and her, but she taught me how to work hard," he said.
"Zach is such an amazing young man and it just makes me so proud that he could be so successful," Jarvis said.
"I just want to work hard at everything I do, so I wouldn't say it's a love -- it's just a passion of just excelling and doing my best," Ferguson said.
Ferguson is a member of Future Business Leaders of America and the Mock Trial team.
He plans on pursuing a business-finance degree to become a financial advisor.
QuestBridge is an organization that partners with prestigious universities across the nation to provide scholarships for academically-talented students from low-income backgrounds.
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