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Two Department of Defense Dependents Schools seniors in Japan are in line to win $20,000 toward college as part of a Coca-Cola scholarship program.

Cathleen Joy Cauguiran from Matthew C. Perry High School at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station and Rebecca Leigh Williams from Camp Zama’s American High School were named semifinalists recently in the Coca-Cola Scholars Program.

The seniors are among 2,000 semifinalists out of almost 80,000 applicants, each vying for a piece of $1.8 million in scholarships this year, according to the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, a nonprofit organization the company and its bottlers created.

The students’ applications will be scrutinized further later this month. If they advance to the next round, they will win either $4,000 or $20,000 scholarships.

Applicants are judged on their academics, leadership, achievement at school and community activities.

“I am shocked. I can’t believe I made it this far,” said Williams, 18.

Williams said she hopes to study political science at Auburn University and someday become an Army intelligence officer.

Cauguiran, 17, said the award is a great confidence boost — for herself and for DODDS.

“I was a little nervous,” she said, but thought, “what’s the harm of applying? At least DODDS is in their books now.”

As semifinalists, the two completed additional applications and extensive essays a committee of stateside educators will review this month.

Of 2,000 semifinalists, 250 will advance to the next round and travel to Atlanta in April to attend the Coca-Cola Scholars Weekend. There, interviews will determine whether they’re regional or national winners.

Fifty national scholars will receive $20,000 renewable scholarships; 200 regional scholars will get $4,000 renewable scholarships.

Both students have other high school accomplishments. Williams awaits news of an Army ROTC scholarship and Cauguiran, who plans to study broadcast journalism at the University of Southern California, soon is to travel to Washington, D.C., to pick up a Youth Senate Scholarship check.

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation was established in 1986 to honor Coke’s 100-year anniversary. It’s since given $23 million to 2,750 students at U.S. and Defense Department schools.

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