A 17-year-old Rockland District High School student who spends her summers fishing for lobster off Criehaven has earned a full four-year scholarship to one of the top schools in the country.

“It’s incredible,” Hayli Kinney of Spruce Head said of her scholarship to Amherst College, which will provide $52,328 per year for her tuition, living expenses, books, supplies and travel.

Kinney said she applied for the scholarship with QuestBridge, which matches low income, high achieving students with some of the top schools in the nation.

She has a number of achievements under her belt, including high grades, numerous activities, community service and athletics. Kinney plays soccer, basketball and softball. She is class president and a member of the student senate. The student also serves as secretary and treasurer of the National Honor Society.

She is also president of Tiger Outreach, a student community service organization that helps people both locally and nationally. The group has traveled to New Orleans to help with the rebuilding effort in the lower ninth ward following its devastation by Hurricane Katrina. Tiger Outreach also helps residents in need locally with projects including weatherizing their homes.

In applying for the scholarship, Kinney had to write three essays. One asked her what diversity she would bring to the campus and she wrote about her experience lobster fishing. Her family has a tradition of fishing off Criehaven.

She also was asked to write a biographical essay. She said she wrote about how her church family and her faith in God have helped her get the most out of high school.

“My personal beliefs gave me the motivation to push forward,” she said.

She attends the Spruce Head Community Church. Kinney co-leads the Rockland District High School chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

When it came to sports, she had to sit out last year because she was suffering post-concussion syndrome, which causes headaches and nausea. During that time, Kinney, who has always been interested in science, found that she was also interested in literature and the humanities.

“When athletics were no longer the biggest thing in my life, I was able to think more broadly,” she said.

She said she will begin her college career undecided on her major, but will most likely go into some area within the field of science. She said she has always been interested in archaeology.

The student said she is thankful for the help she received from English teacher Peter Pfister and his wife, Monica Kelly, who looked over her essays and helped her revise them. They also wrote her recommendation letters. She also mentioned math teacher and coach Don Pietroski who introduced her to the scholarship program.

She is the daughter of Kelli Kinney.