National Merit semi-finalist named RHS Student of the Year

By Jim Wilkerson

Jason Willis, a Ruston High School senior, was publicly recognized at the Lincoln Parish School Board meeting for his achievement of being named a semi-finalist for the 67th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

 “It’s a great honor that I recognize is very rare, and I’m very grateful to have received it,” Willis said. “I have really appreciated the response I’ve gotten from the Ruston community and all the people who have made an effort to congratulate me.”

Willis has already completed his application to be a finalist, which includes filling out biographical information, listing various achievements, and writing an essay about himself.

“I hope to earn a National Merit Scholarship, but even if I don’t, I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished so far,” he said.

A few days later, Willis received more good news: He was named Ruston High School Student of the Year.

“Our principal, Dan Gressett, announced it over the intercom,” Willis said. “I was really excited when I found out about it, especially with all of the work of the application process and having competed against some good friends of mine that I totally respect.”

Willis will be preparing for the parish/district level in the coming weeks.

When asked what colleges he is considering applying for, he mentioned LSU, SMU, Duke, UNC, Vanderbilt, Michigan and Notre Dame, among others.

“I’ve picked these universities because they have a good reputation of being academically excellent, especially in the majors and fields I’m considering,” he said.

A reporter for Future Business Leaders of America and Editor-in-Chief of The Chatterbox, Willis said he is strongly contemplating majoring in sports journalism.

“Sports journalism…is something that I would have a lot of fun doing and would find very interesting,” he said.

He is also thinking about psychology, law, or history as potential majors.

“Whatever I do, though, I want to enjoy, and I also want to make some kind of difference and help people out in the process,” Willis said.

To end, Willis wanted to express his appreciation for all the support he has received from his family.

“My parents are very excited for me!” he said. “They’re very proud of all that I’ve accomplished. There is almost no way I could fully express my gratitude for all they’ve done for me. Obviously, they have influenced me and made me the person I am today, as well as pushed me to broaden my horizons and put myself out there for these academic competitions. However, none of this would be possible specifically without their sacrifice of allowing me to live separate from them with my sister here in Ruston…while they live in Natchitoches. Without them being willing to do that, I would not be here in Ruston accomplishing these things.”

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