By Jane Hakiyimana

   It was September 22, Thursday morning, when principal Emme Siburt and associate principal Patricia Anderson interrupted Sandra Henry’s environmental science class to make an announcement- they had an award to present. The students quietly waited for them to make an announcement, eager to find out who was about to be honored. “Congratulations!” Siburt exclaimed as she walked up to a dumbfounded Emery Heflin and presented her with a card.

   The National Merit Scholarship Corporation awarded Emery Heflin a Letter of Commendation for her performance on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test last year. Over 1.4 million juniors took the PSAT, and Heflin was one of 34,000 that received a Letter of Commendation for outstanding achievement. Though students who receive a Letter of Commendation do not continue to the competition for National Merit scholarships, they do become candidates for corporate and business-sponsored scholarships.

   “I was surprised,” Heflin said. “I didn’t know what it was, but after doing a little bit of research, I’m happy with it.”

   In 2018, years before Heflin took the PSAT when she was only in seventh grade, she earned state recognition as a 2017-18 Duke Scholar for passing the ACT that high school juniors and seniors were taking at that time. She was distinguished further by earning Grand Recognition status for achieving a score higher than 90% of college-bound high school students, the only seventh grader that year to earn such recognition.

    “I was selected in seventh grade with a group of other students to take the ACT,” Heflin said. “A couple of other students and I scored at a certain percentage, so we got recognized at the school board meeting. And I got also got recognized at Texas Christian University in Dallas.”

   Heflin’s college plans are still in the early stages, but she is leaning towards majoring in international relations.

   “I’m still undecided, I’m looking at several things, but I’m thinking about majoring in International Relations,” Heflin said.  “My top three colleges are Denver University, the University of Colorado in Boulder, and UT Austin.”

   On top of Heflin’s achievements, Heflin is currently in five Advanced Placement classes, two of which are also dual credit. Throughout her high school career, she has taken a total of nine AP classes, half being dual credit, proving that her brilliance excels beyond the test room. Heflin credits her work ethic and achievements to her drive to be successful and her parents’ unconditional love and support.

   “The things that inspire me to work hard are my want to succeed and enjoy what I am doing/have more control over my future,” Heflin said.  “My parents don’t put a lot of pressure on me, they just taught me to be curious and to want to learn and to work hard now so I can have more options as I grow up,”