While a student at Carson High School, Amber Cleveland was a star of sorts. She was always the one asked to sing the national anthem at school events and to perform at other community functions.
This week, she's hoping to transform her hometown stardom into a shot for "American Idol" status.
After winning a Midwest talent search where she is a student in Lincoln, Neb., a local radio station is paying for her airfare and accommodations in Los Angeles to try out for the hit television show "American Idol."
Cleveland, 20, a 2000 graduate of Carson High School, is studying nutrition at the University of Nebraska where her brother, Ethan, is also a student.
"I am very excited," Cleveland said. "I am also really nervous. But who wouldn't be?"
She entered the Mid-American Idol contest sponsored by radio station KFRX at the urging of her Phi Nu sorority sisters.
"I didn't think I would win," she said. "When they called my name, I just stood there. I didn't even realize they'd said it."
But since the contest, she's had to get used to hearing her name over and over as the radio station promotes her audition on the national show.
"The first time I was just driving along, then it was like, 'Oh my gosh, that's my name,'" she recounted. "It's a really odd feeling to hear your name on the radio."
But it's a feeling she could get used to. Cleveland has been singing since she was a child and has always wanted to continue her talent professionally.
"It's been a dream of mine since I was little but a lot of people have the same dream and don't make it. So you have to go to college," she said. "It just stays in the back of your mind but now it's becoming a little more real."
She flies to Los Angeles on Saturday and will spend the next four days in auditions. She will be notified by Nov. 21 or 22 whether she is selected for the next round in Hollywood.
The top 30 finalists from there will compete on the show.