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Ashia Ryan Named Winner Of Oratory Contest

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- As part of our Continuing Community Commitment, WJZ celebrates Black History Month. Our own Kai Jackson was the emcee for this year's oratory contest at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.

Jessica Kartalija introduces us to the winner.

Students from across Maryland chose one of three famous quotes, then gave a speech.

On the wall above her computer is Ashia Ryan's favorite quote: "Education is the passport to the future for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for today." So it was only fitting that she would choose to use the quote by Malcolm X as her topic for WJZ's Black History Month Oratory Contest.

"Malcolm X held education in the highest regard. Malcolm X learned early on that education was the only thing that could equal the playing field for all people," Ryan said.

The speech sent her right to the top.

"I don't know how to describe it. I felt like crying, I felt like dancing. I was very happy," Ryan said.

She was one of 20 Maryland students speaking.

"I tell her over and over again to take pride in everything that you do and she never lets me down," said Russell Ryan.

She wins a $1,000 scholarship she'll put toward her education.

"I want to be a lawyer and I want to be a business owner and I want to go to Spelman College," she said.

"Education is the only thing that will allow her a life with the freedom to travel and buy nice things and do things she wouldn't be able to do with just a high school education," said Shireen Hodge-Ryan.

"I feel ecstatic, happy, blessed. Words can't describe how I feel," Ryan said.

Ashia Ryan is a junior at Western Tech High School.

The finalists receive scholarships and prizes.

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