Coral James Is National Merit Scholarship Finalist
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This year, the senior class of CAHS has three members pursuing the prestigious status of a National Merit Scholar. The process begins with taking the PSAT, after which the top 16,000 students across the nation are notified that they are semifinalists. Then the semifinalists must go through an intense application process to become a finalist.
Senior Coral James is a perfect example of keeping her calm and maintaining composure under the intense circumstances that go along with the application process. Despite the stress of the situation, James was not fazed by the pressure that accompanied the application, but rather the period she spent waiting after it was submitted. “It was a little bit stressful waiting to hear if I became a finalist, because that would decide if I was eligible for scholarships and ultimately could decide which college I go to.”
“I think the fact that I submitted it well before the deadline [helped]. … I put my best effort into it, but it wasn’t necessarily like, ‘If you don’t write the best essay in America, then you’re not going to get it,’” James said.
To other aspiring National Merit Scholarship finalists, James would advise them to present themselves in a way that will appeal to those reviewing their applications and diligent studying for the test. “Work hard for the PSAT and work hard to present yourself in a positive light, just like you would in any application … don’t stress about it to the point that it’s becoming unhealthy,” she said.
In order to become a finalist, James had to submit her application along with an essay. When it came down to writing the essay, James tried to make it a more personal response by integrating some of her own experiences into it. “I wrote about how I’ve gone through difficult times of having extremely low self-confidence, but how finding my worth in God really changed that. I was able to learn to know my value no matter what.”
“I tried to be a real person, live by my values and aim to make a difference to other people’s lives with the gifts that I’ve been given,” James said.