PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – A Broward County high school student who has cancer was honored Monday for all of her hard work in her school and in her community.
Samirah Khan had a look of shock on her face as she won the third annual Make Her Mark award in a surprise ceremony with family and classmates watching on.
"I was incredibly surprised. I thought it was just a regular senior assembly to talk about prom and graduation, so I didn't expect anything like this," Samirah said.
"We're very proud of her," Samirah's father, Feizool Khan, said. "It's a tremendous award. It represents exactly who she is."
Samirah walked to the stage in crutches, still recovering from surgery.
The West Broward High School student was recently diagnosed with epithelial sarcoma, a rare tissue cancer.
She's missed many days of school because of doctor's appointments and radiation treatment. But she still makes time to volunteer with the homeless, tutor classmates in Spanish and work in student government.
She even organized a custodian appreciation day.
"It's something that gave me a lot of hope and joy, helping other people, and that definitely didn't go away after cancer. It only strengthened, because I knew that life is short and that we have to make the best of what we have," Samirah said.
The 18-year-old accepted the award from U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), beating out 44 other students who were nominated.
The judges, including Local 10's Liane Morejon, were blown away by her dedication and perseverance.
"She's already making her mark, and the purpose of the award is to help use it to encourage a young woman in my congressional district -- young people -- to lift others up," Wasserman Schultz said.
Samirah said she wants to be a pediatrician so she can give children the same hope and comfort that her doctors gave her.
Samirah said she does not know whether she's cancer-free or not, but feels blessed for every day she lives.
She said she also wants to be an inspiration to all boys and girls facing adversity.