A desire to help other children improve academically provided a Whitehall-Yearling High School senior with the opportunity to help many more people.

Angelique Latham, 18, will graduate next month. As one of about 300 students in the United States to receive a Morrill Scholarship Program Distinction Scholarship, she will attend Ohio State University this fall.

The scholarship is awarded to students who show commitment to both academics and diversity by excelling in the classroom and making a positive impact in their communities, according to the scholarship program's website.

Her selection was based in part on her contributions as a "VolunTeen" at the Whitehall branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

Latham said she plans to major in political science and international relations and diplomacy.

"I would eventually like to get into politics," she said.

Latham said she became a library volunteer for the opportunity to encourage children to read.

"Reading is my strength and I understand the importance of gaining a foundation of literacy when you are a child," Latham said.

As a VolunTeen, Latham said she enjoys working with children from different countries and "helping them bond with others" through reading.

It also lays the groundwork for success in other academia, Latham said, as students who continue to improve their reading skills perform better on tests.

CML supervisors said Latham has provided an invaluable service to the Whitehall branch.

"Angelique is an incredibly hardworking young lady who always strives to be the best version of herself," said Brittany Tesar, youth-services manager at the Whitehall branch.

"In spite of a busy academic schedule, she always finds time to come in after school and serve as a 'reading buddy' to help some of our younger customers (become) better readers."

As a VolunTeen, Latham participates in the library's Summer Reading Challenge.

"(Angelique) has the unique gift of being able to help children learn and grow while also understanding where they are developmentally," Tesar said.

The VolunTeen program is designed to help teens develop leadership skills and cultivate a passion for community service, said Ben Zenitsky, a marketing and communications specialist for the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

VolunTeen registration for the Summer Reading Challenge began April 23 at columbuslibrary.org/about/volunteer.

Latham said she looks forward to meeting other students in the Morrill Scholarship program and is "excited" about what she can accomplish at Ohio State.

"Whether it is through launching a community service project or being in charge of a student organization, I am excited about the impact I will make.

"My focus will be to inform people about what is happening in the world (and) develop the skills needed (for my profession)," Latham said.