Of the more than 1.6 million students who entered the National Merit Scholarship competition last fall in taking the Preliminary SAT, Cleburne High School senior Austin Price is among 34,000 to receive the honor of Commended Student as a top scorer.
The recognition is something Price hoped for, knowing it could improve his chances for scholarship awards. He was about to give up on that hope, when a letter, starting out with the word “congratulations,” ultimately arrived in the mail.
“I was definitely hoping I’d get recognized,” he said. “I was really starting to get nervous when I hadn’t heard anything. It had been quite a while since I took the test in my junior year. For me, this is kind of like a pat on the back. It encourages you to go on to college. It’s like a verification—you can do this. You have a future.”
Reaffirming, and encouraging, the potential for academic success of the students they are honoring is among the goals of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
“We hope that this recognition will help broaden their educational opportunities and encourage them as they continue their pursuit of academic success,” stated a NMSC official. “The young men and women being named Commended Students have demonstrated outstanding potential for academic success. These students represent a valuable national resource. Recognizing their accomplishments, as well as the key role their schools play in their academic development, is vital to the advancement of educational excellence in our nation.”
Eric Park, who had Price in his AP U.S. History class last year, says being named a National Merit Commended Student is a recognition well-deserved.
“It couldn’t happen to a more deserving young person,” Park said. “Austin naturally picked up concepts and made sense out of complexity as a student in my class. His writing skills are superb, and his work ethic is exemplary. He unfailingly completed literally every assignment with his best effort.”
“With all that, one might expect some level of conceitedness, but the most surprising thing about Austin is his humility,” Park said. “He is wholly unassuming. That is not to say he is shy—he readily took the lead in projects and spoke in front of the class on numerous occasions, but always did so without showiness, never demanding attention of affirmation. Austin is a young man who is secure in himself and is sure of his abilities and simply looks for opportunities to expend his gifts in the ways that are most useful.”
In addition to doing well—quite well-- on the SAT, which was among his high school goals, Price said his intent this year, as in past years, is to do his best.
“Doing my best is always the expectation I have for myself,” he said. “There have been times I had to get back on track, but for the most part, I’ve been focused all through high school. I’ve enjoyed high school and I’m not rushing to get it over with, that’s for sure.”
As a Jacket, Price competed three years in basketball and is a member of National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society and Beta Club, where he is serving as president. He also sings in the youth praise band at Field Street Baptist Church. As an involved student committed to academics first, he’s had to make some tough decisions regarding personal priorities.
“There have been times when homework has taken away from time with friends,” Price said. “Fortunately, we do a lot of group study, which helps us to push each other, get the best from each other and bounce ideas off each other.”
“My parents have always expected good grades from me and my brother,” Price said. “But I think I’ve been someone who’s always been eager to learn. I’m genuinely a hard worker, but also laid back for the most part. I’m definitely blessed with good test-taking abilities and can reason my way to get the answer, but I also drive myself to be the best I can be.”
With high school graduation on the horizon, Price has already set his course for college, and will be attending Texas Tech to study civil or mechanical engineering. He believes his preferences for math and science, coupled with his interest in art, will make for a great mix in his plans for a career in engineering.
“I like creating and design and enjoy painting and drawing,” he said. “I think engineering requires a certain amount of creativity.”
Price’s creative talents as a singer will soon be featured on the stage of the Don Smith Performing Arts Center. He has been cast in the lead role of Troy Bolton in the CHS fall production of “High School Musical Jr.”
“This has moved me out of my box a little,” Price said. “But it’s been a good thing to do since I’m not in sports this year. It’s let me meet a lot of people and maybe pushed me to be a little more extroverted. I’ve had a little stage fright, but overall it’s been fun. We’ve all worked very hard and I think those who come to see it will enjoy it.”
Now on the countdown to graduation, Price continues to take things day by day, an attitude he embraced early on in life.
“I’m living in the moment,” he said. “But these days, the moments are going by quickly. High school has gone by super quick.”
Cleburne High School senior Austin Price has been named a 2018 National Merit Scholarship Commended Student. He is among 34,000 students from across the nation being honored as a top scorer among the 1.6 million who took the Preliminary SAT as juniors.