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School For Advanced Studies senior's entrepreneurial spirit shines across South Florida

Students Who Shine: Leila Hilliard
Students Who Shine: Leila Hilliard 03:24
  Marybel Rodriguez introduces us to Leila Hilliard: a senior at the School for Advanced Studies, Kendall Campus. SAS Kendall Campus

KENDALL — One South Florida high schooler has big business plans not only for herself but her peers, too.

"Ever since I first started to know Leila, I knew that she was different from any other student," said teacher Melanie Tercilla-Allen. "Not only does she submit high-quality work when it comes to her academic writings and even her relevant participation in class, but she also is the type of student that makes personal connections with you."

And, that is just one of the many qualities that make Leila Hilliard — a senior at the School For Advanced Students, Kendall Campus —  a student who shines.

"I have received the AP Scholar Award of Distinction, the National Hispanic Recognition Award and the African American Recognition from College Board, and nominated for a Do the Right Thing Award," Hilliard said.

And as if that weren't enough, she is the president of the SAS Key Club, the treasurer of Student Government, the school's magazine editor, on the honor roll, and a Silver Knight nominee.

"I never even thought that is something that could happen when I was 10 years old and I was starting my project," said Hilliard. "It's been very nice to experience getting to know other nominees at my school has been really amazing — no matter the outcome."

That project she mentioned is the Young Entrepreneur Showcase she started.

"I was able to create a mentorship program where throughout the years, we've been able to help kids who also want to do this business thing or not sure if they want to, but are very interested in creating an idea, help them solidify their ideas, and produce them and showcase them at the marketplace," Hilliard said.

And, this all started because of her love for business. Through her nonprofit, Hilliard has helped dozens of young entrepreneurs sell their products.

"There are social interaction skills, and also solidify their business ideas because they have to be clear when they're talking to their customers, and it's really been a great experience not only for myself — because I wanted to participate this year — but an experience for a bunch of students," she said.

A great experience for all the kids and for Hilliard, who is on the right path to a very bright future.

"I definitely see myself in 10 years in charge of a big corporation or managing a large office, doing something where I get to lead for sure," she said. "And, I got to be with people no matter where it is."

Hilliard has applied to the University of Florida, Wake Forest University, Duke University and the University of Miami, just to name a few colleges. However, she hopes to become a Florida Gator.

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