Sharp, Smith named merit finalists

Published 10:21 pm Monday, February 8, 2010

Joseph “Jeb” Sharp and Jessica Smith, seniors at Charles Henderson High School, have been named finalists in the 2010 competition for National Merit Scholarships.

The National Merit Scholarship Program recently determined which of the 16,000 semifinalists named in September 2009 have met all requirements to advance to Finalist standing in the competition and will be considered for National Merit Scholarships to be offered in 2010.

Becoming a Finalist in the prestigious and rewarding competition was a goal for Sharp and Smith. Both said they are honored to have reached that level of the competition.

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“I’m honored and excited … and relieved,” Sharp said. “It’s been about a year and a half since we took the test for the scholarships so, it’s a relief to finally know. I would have been disappointed if I’d not been a Finalist but it would have been okay.”

Smith also said there would have been a measure of disappointment if she had not been named a Finalist because it was a goal she had set for herself.

“My parents have always told me to do my best at whatever I do and I did my best,” she said. “That’s all they ask of me and that’s what I ask of myself.”

Doing their best has long been a goal for Sharp and Smith.

“My parents encourage me and maybe nudge me a little but they never push me. I’ve just always wanted to do my best,” Sharp said. “It just comes naturally with me.”

And, with Smith.

“There’s just this drive I have to do my best,” she said.

“My parents always told me to do the best I can and I’ll be successful. I have a passion for learning.”

The young scholars said that academics are important but not to the point that academics are all that they do.

Sharp plays soccer and runs cross-country. Smith is involved in several campus organizations, including the drama club, and also plays piano in the jazz band.

Both plan to attended the University of Alabama and they know which direction they want their career paths to take.

Sharp is fascinated by the English language and literature. He enjoys reading everything from the Classics to Southern writers, with William Faulkner as his favorite.

“I want to be a high school English and literature teacher,” Sharp said. “That will be an interesting and rewarding career.”

Smith has always been fascinated by the workings of the human brain.

“What I’d really like to be is a psychiatrist,” Smith said and added with a smile. “I’m a good listener and I like to give advice.”

Julie Thomas, CHHS counselor, said Sharp and Smith are outstanding, all-around students and will do well in whatever path they choose in life.

“They are to be congratulated on being named National Merit Scholarship Finalist,” she said.

“They are very deserving of this honor and everyone at Charles Henderson High School is proud of them.”