Rice, a senior at Friendship Collegiate Academy Public Charter School, recently earned a $2,500 scholarship after participating in a Pepco-sponsored leadership development program. She'll start her college education at Bowie State later this year.

What did you learn from the program?

It opened my eyes to a different field. I was really nervous about the public speaking part where we had to get in front of everybody and present what we learned. We had a PowerPoint about public speaking, how to present ourselves and how to build a resume.

And the speaking unnerved you?

I never knew that we had to speak until the last minute. I had spoken in front of people before, but it wasn't as big of a group as it was at Pepco. I think it helped me get over some of my fears.

I know you want to become a pediatrician. Why?

I always had an interest in medicine, and I love just love kids. There's teaching, but I think medicine is more interesting. I think I want to be a neonatologist.

Do you think your experience with Pepco will help?

Yes. My mentor was a financial administrator, and I was sitting there and I realized that in the medical field, nurses and doctors have to do timesheets and contracts, and the offices have to deal with medical billing.

What have been your secrets to success?

I try to keep my goals in reach and try to do things that will help me get closer to what I want to do. I also tried to pick things to do that kept me interested and kept connected with teachers. A lot of kids -- and even myself sometimes -- say that it's hard to get into programs, but you have to know what you want to do and stay grounded on how you're going to do it.

-- Alan Blinder