“Having a daily love of learning” and a “drive for excellence in every area of his involvement” are just a few phrases Barbara Jeter uses to describe her son Justin, who was named a 2015 U.S. Presidential Scholar.
With the exception of three years, Justin, who is a HomeLife Academy (HLA) student from Nolensville, Tennessee, has been homeschooled since he was in kindergarten. He has always shown a respect for his education.
“He has always been a diligent scholar,” said Jeter. “Justin has also found interest in acting, Boy Scouts, Latin, classical studies, reading, missions and volunteering.”
There were more than 4,300 students in the 2015 graduating class that were qualified to apply. According to the scholarship program “the 2015 U.S. Presidential Scholars are comprised of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and from U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large and 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts.”
Justin’s commitment to education and pursuit for excellence placed him in the position of being one of 141 students who was named a distinguished scholar.
“Presidential Scholars demonstrate the accomplishments that can be made when students challenge themselves, set the highest standards and commit themselves to excellence,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a recent press release announcing Justin’s award. “These scholars are poised to make their mark on our nation in every field imaginable: the art and humanities, science and technology, law and medicine, business and finance, education and government – to name a few. Their academic and artistic achievements reflect a sense of purpose that we should seek to instill in all students to prepare them for college, careers, civic responsibilities and the challenges of today’s job market.”
Performance on the College Board SAT and ACT exams, and nominations made by Chief State School Officers or the National YoungArts Foundation’s nationwide YoungArts™ competition were other criteria applicants had to fulfill.
“Previously, you were only invited to even apply if you had a perfect ACT or SAT. This year, schools were allowed to nominate their top student and HomeLife nominated Justin. From there, the state chose its top 10 candidates to move on in the competition,” said Jeter, who noted the application process was quite extensive. “Justin completed several essays and obtained a letter of recommendation. There are two areas, academics and the arts, and Justin’s award was for academics. However, this year 10 candidates from each state were chosen on the basis of qualifying academics then extracurricular, leadership, perseverance, a letter of recommendation, essays, etc. From there, 15 were chosen for the nation and Justin was among those 15.”
Jeter believes Justin’s home education played a big part in his recognition, because she thinks he may have gone unrecognized if HLA High School Guidance Counselor Lani Carey had not nominated him.
“He will be attending the University of Kentucky on a full-ride scholarship, then law school. Justin receiving the scholarship means God is gracious, merciful and answers prayers” said Jeter, who homeschools a second child, Georganna.
Jeter also expressed her appreciation for Carey.
“Lani is always going the extra mile to advocate for excellent students like Justin,” said Jeter. “He was the only homeschooled kid in the nation chosen on the basis of academics. Another homeschooler was chosen based on excellence in the arts.”
Justin was able to name his most influential teacher and he chose his mother Barbara, who received a personal letter from Duncan noting her distinguished title. They will travel to Washington D.C. Sunday through Tuesday, June 21-23 where Justin, along with the other scholarship recipients, will meet top leaders in the nation in various professional fields and be formerly recognized at the scheduled Presidential Scholars Medallion Ceremony.
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