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Amani Ross Named Winner Of Oratory Contest

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Finding her voice. The winner of the Black History Oratory Contest is full of talent outside the written and spoken word.

Marcus Washington sat down with the winner.

When WJZ called for contestants for the 2015 oratory competition, students did not disappoint. As part of WJZ's continuing community commitment, I was able to emcee as 17 students from the Baltimore area showcased their skills.

Amani Ross took the top honors.

"As I studied it more, my interest became a desire and I realized this is what I want to do with my life," she said.

WJZ sat down with Ross at her Catonsville home after all the excitement settled down.

"When I woke up, I was like, `Did this happen? Is this a dream? I hope it's not a dream.' I looked over at the basket and I was like, `Nope, this is real. This happened," Ross said.

An 11th grade student at Catonsville High School, Ross' oration was based off a quote by George Washington Carver.

"I agree with George Washington Carver's quote, `Where there is no vision, there is no hope,'" she said. "Since I was little, I could vision myself on what I wanted to be but I couldn't see how I was going to get there. As I grew up, I didn't really have hope I was going to get there, so I kind of related. And I was like, `Oh, this relates to me. I should write about this.'"

"She's a very shy kid with a gentle spirit so for her to do something like this and step outside her comfort zone speaks volumes to her personal growth," said her mother, Knioni Ross-Johnson.

Ross' talents surpass spoken word---she is now becoming a master on the keys. For the Catonsville High School junior, her vision is now clear and after winning the Black History Oratory Competition, it's just the beginning of her future.

Ross says while it took a lot of hard work, the competition was actually fun and she says she plans to defend her title next year.

The top three contestants received a monetary gift and a scholarship from sponsor Toyota Financial Services.

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