Katianna Blackwell-Scott

Katianna Blackwell-Scott will study pre-veterinary medicine at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. She will also dive for the college.


atianna Blackwell-Scott doesn’t take “no” for an answer. 

When she was told she had a “slim to none” chance of returning to the gym after tearing her posterior cruciate ligament and meniscus and breaking her tibia, she forged on through arduous physical therapy.

“I heard that with other injuries,” Blackwell-Scott said. “I don’t stop when other people tell me to stop.”

That type of confident and strength has worked for the Cactus Shadows High School senior. She recently was named a semifinalist for the 2021 class of the Coca-Cola Scholars Program. 

“I applied to this scholarship not expecting it,” she said. “The fact that I am one of the top 1,600 is great. I worked long nights to get where I am. I’m very honored.”

From a pool of 99,403 submitted applications, only 1,609 high school seniors were selected as semifinalists based on their academic excellence, leadership and service demonstrated in school and community activities. The semifinalists are in the running for 150 college scholarships worth $20,000.

“We believe that identifying these young leaders throughout the country and encouraging their passion for serving others not only empowers the students but also lifts up those around them,” said Jane Hale Hopkins, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation president. 

“The Coca-Cola system is dedicated to giving back to the communities they serve, and the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation is proud to be a part of that commitment.”

Coca-Cola Scholars will be named in March and will participate in the Coca-Cola Scholars Leadership Development Institute facilitated by program alumni.

A National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist, Blackwell-Scott scored a perfect 36 on her ACT and a 1470 on her PSAT. She’s a varsity/club diver and volunteers at the National Charity League, Mom’s Pantry, Teen Lifeline and Puppy Love.

“The National Charity League is a mother-daughter leadership and charity organization that holds meetings once a month,” she said. “There’s a yearly requirement for hours. Through my school, honor society and National Charity League, I have volunteered more than 900 hours since the eighth grade.”

Time management isn’t a problem for Blackwell-Scott. She said she studies everywhere from the car to the break between school and diving 

“A few times I pulled all nighters,” she said. “As long as you stay focused, it’s not that hard to balance.”

She is planning to attend Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. The college, which is 45 minutes outside of Columbus, is a division three school. Blackwell-Scott will dive in college and study pre-veterinary medicine. She’s an animal lover who has three dogs and a “big cat.”

“Katianna represents CCUSD’s best and brightest,” said Dr. Debbi Burdick, Cave Creek Unified School District’s outgoing superintendent. 

“As an exemplar at Cactus Shadows High School, we could not be more proud of her accomplishments.”

Blackwell-Scott is the daughter of Alissa Scott and the late Phoenix Police Officer Beryl “Wayne” Scott, who died in the line of duty on September 10, 2002. Alissa was six months pregnant. 

Blackwell-Scott said her parents instilled this strength in her. 

“My dad was a police officer, and my mom always told me not to give up,” she said. “At times I didn’t like it. I just wanted to stop, but she said I had to keep going. I’m grateful they instilled the confidence in me to keep going.”

Scott said she is proud of her daughter. 

“When people ask me about how proud I am of Katianna, I am extremely humbled and often speechless over all that she has overcome and what she has accomplished,” she said. 

“Because when you look at her accomplishments on paper, sometimes it’s difficult to realize she’s just a sweet and charismatic teenager who’s just trying to do her best. Nothing gives her more joy than volunteering and helping out others in any way she can. To state I am extremely proud sometimes doesn’t feel like it’s enough. Words can’t really cover what my heart feels for all of her accomplishments and for the amazing young lady she is becoming.”