A Medford teenager beat out hundreds to win a $10,000 scholarship from the VFW Women's Auxiliary.
Right in time for Independence Day, Mariah Jorgensen, 17, is showing the world why she's proud to be an American.
What began as a simple art class assignment, has paid off big.
"It was just a class I took because I needed an extra credit... but it ended up being something more than that," Jorgensen said.
She was assigned to make a patriotic poster, those with the best results would be entered into a statewide contest.
Jorgensen got to work immediately, knowing she wanted to depict important American symbols.
The images she portrayed make a strong statement, like Lady Liberty not in her usual upright stance, but crouching down in tears.
It also shows the twin towers of 9/11 burning, and past presidents crying as they look on.
She says her art represents a loss of freedom.... and depicts the sadness in the hearts of those who helped create a just country for us to live in.
She won the statewide contest and a $1,000 scholarship... and then went on to win the national scholarship prize of $10,000.
"It was a big shocker... only because there was other kids in my class that were gifted too.. but the big shocker came when I won nationals," the recent high school graduate said.
Her family couldn't be prouder.
"I'm mostly proud of the picture in general and what the meaning is... it's such... the patriotic thing is such an important thing," said her mother Patricia.
Jorgensen has dedicated the piece to her grandfathers, both who served in the Korean War.
She plans to attend Northcentral Technical College in the fall.
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Posted: 12/06/2013 - They're our nation's bravest, standing side by side to protect and defend our country. Now, they're standing side by side to help each other celebrate the holidays.