BROOKSVILLE — Hernando High School senior Shanley Carlton, 17, recently got another boost on her dreams of higher education when she was awarded a $2,500 National Merit Scholarship.
She also has received offers of admission from two universities.
"It feels really good,'' she said, adding, "I have a great home'' and thanking her parents, Richard and Jackie Carlton.
"Hernando (high school) is very supportive, too," Shanley said. She said she could have attended a different high school with differing programs. "I wanted to go (here) because of the traditions and my parents went here. It's nice here. There is a great staff of teachers at Hernando High School."
To enter the National Merit Scholar competition, high school juniors take the PSAT. "It counts as the National Merit qualifying test," Shanley said. "If you get into the 99 percentile you're a semifinalist." Semifinalists are the highest scoring entrants in each state.
Finalists are chosen from this pool. To win one of the National Merit Scholarships, a finalist has to write an essay, submit academic records, list extracurricular activities, send in a recommendation (principal Ken Pritz wrote Shanley's) and have a high SAT score. Shanley's is 1540 (out of 1600).
She was one of 15,000 students nationwide selected out of about 1.5 million entrants to be a finalist. This made her eligible to compete for one of 8,400 National Merit $2,500 Scholarships, for corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards and college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards.
Shanley has decided to accept the University of Alabama's offer for full tuition, room and board, a computer, $2,000 to spend on a semester studying abroad and $1,000 spending money. She chose the school because of its many options to accommodate her interests.
She plans to major in computer engineering with a minor in creative writing. One of her goals is to become the head of story production at Pixar Animation Studios. She also is considering journalism, mechanical engineering or aerospace engineering with the goal of someday working at NASA.
"In these four years," she said, "I just want to get a good education and be well-rounded."
Shanley has a 4.53 grade point average. She is taking advanced placement art, advanced placement psychology, Spanish IV and advanced placement calculus at the high school. Introduction to drawing, micro applied business and principals of economics at Pasco-Hernando Community College round out her schedule.
She is a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and American Youth Foundation. She is the secretary of the Student Government Association.
She played soccer as a freshman, played volleyball and ran track as a junior and was in swimming as a junior. She plays classical piano and enjoys writing and drawing.