Q&A with this year’s National Scholars

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Valerie Cardenas, National Hispanic Scholar
Valarie Cardenas, National Hispanic Recognition Scholar

Valarie Cardenas, National Hispanic Recognition Scholar

How did you prepare for the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholar Qualifying Test?

Cardenas: I attended Ms. Thomas’ Wednesday SAT practices along with Mr. Spurlock’s math tutoring. I was also fortunate to have Mrs. Thomas for Pre-AP English as a sophomore; I’m a strong believer that she helped me more than she realizes.

How does it feel to be a part of the top percentage of test-takers in the nation?

Cardenas: Honestly, it’s kind of surreal. I don’t think I’m all that smart, and because of that, it’s kind of hard to truly embrace what being a National Hispanic Scholar is, I almost feel like I don’t deserve it. But at the same time, I do put in the effort when it’s needed, so it’s cool to be distinguished with other intelligent students.

How has your accomplishment affected the application process for college?

Cardenas: This accomplishment has affected the application process for me immensely. So many schools offer large scholarships for national scholars that it’s helped me have back up options. If I don’t get accepted and attend my number one college, it’s nice to know that I do have back-ups where I won’t have to worry about paying.

Now that you’ve crossed this goal off of your list for senior year, what’s next?

Cardenas: My goal for the rest of my school career is to graduate with at least my current rank, enjoy my senior year, and just keep improving in everything.

What advice would you give to other students? What, would you say, is the key to success?

Cardenas: Don’t be ashamed of your talents; being afraid to try means being afraid to get better. At the end of the day, students are in control of their own destiny. What you do now makes all the difference in the future. It’s also important to have fun. Don’t take every single thing seriously. If you failed, it’s okay. Learn from your mistakes, but don’t dwell. Life can be stressful enough as it is.

Brianna Clark-National Merit Scholar Semi-Finalist
Brianna Clark-National Merit Scholar Semi-Finalist

Brianna Clarke, National Merit Scholar Semi-finalist

How did you prepare for the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholar Qualifying Test?

Clarke: I went to some SAT tutoring sessions with Ms. Thomas and took the PSAT my sophomore year. I also took the SAT to prepare for the PSAT, that way the PSAT seemed easy in comparison.

How does it feel to be a part of the top percentage of test-takers in the nation?

Clarke: The first time I took the PSAT, I was worried that time would run out before I finished half the test, so it feels great to have proved to myself that I can do it. I feel honored to receive this recognition.

How has your accomplishment affected the application process for college?

Clarke: It has opened up a lot more opportunities, especially with scholarships. Some schools that would not have otherwise been realistic possibilities are now options for me.

Now that you have crossed this goal off your list for senior year, what’s next?

Clarke: I have been accepted to my top choice college, John Brown University where I plan to major in Early Childhood Development. Now I’m focusing on financial aid, keeping my grades up, and enjoying the rest of my senior year.

What advice would you give to other students? What, would you say, is the key to success?

Clarke: Don’t forget to focus on long term goals. It’s easy to just do enough to get by, but you don’t want to wait until your senior year to realize your grades aren’t good enough to graduate or go to college. The key to success is doing what you need to do to put yourself in a place where you can pursue your dreams.

Bria Bayson-National Achievement Scholar Program Outstanding Participant
Bria Bayson-National Achievement Scholar Program Outstanding Participant

Bria Bayson, National Achievement Scholar Program Outstanding Participant

How did you prepare for the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholar Qualifying Test?

Bayson: I went to numerous tutoring sessions for the PSAT taught by Ms. Thomas. Also, taking AP classes helped me to push myself and practice higher level thinking.

How does it feel to be part of the top percentage of test-takers in the nation?

Bayson: It has really just motivated me more. Knowing that I have accomplished this drives me to what to conquer an even greater feat.

How has your accomplishment affected the application process for college?

Bayson: Applying to A&M was rather simple. I finished my application about three days before Thanksgiving Break, and they accepted me two days later.

Now that you have crossed this goal off of your list for senior year, what’s next?

Bayson: My next goal is to continue down this road and prepare for college. I also want to help those after me accomplish this achievement also.

What advice would you give to other students? What, would you say, is the key to success?

Bayson: Success is not something to be afraid of. Without it, you never know what you are truly capable of. The key to success to learn from your failures and remain determined even you want to quit.