Bright Future: Porter named National Merit semifinalist

Published 10:38 pm Tuesday, November 20, 2018

BATON ROUGE — University Laboratory School senior Jane Shelby Porter is proving to the world that her future shines as brightly as her smile

Porter recently made strides to advance in the National Merit Scholarship Program with an essay about realizing her outward and inward beauty.

Porter — the granddaughter of the Dolores Porter and the late Claude Porter of Natchez — scored in the top 1 percent of more than 1.6 million students from throughout the nation to test for the National Merit program and was recently named a semifinalist in the competition.

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To advance to the finalist stage, Porter must submit her high school transcript, SAT scores, leadership information and a personal essay.

Porter said she has already written her essay about her personal triumph over her cleft palate.

“I wrote about having had many surgeries … how it made me want to do well and how it made me come to terms with my appearance,” she said.

Porter said she always strived to impress and do her best, although it was not always easy.

“I had to have speech therapy rather than doing other things I wanted to do after school,” she said. “This is one thing that people see when they see me, but I don’t worry about it. … I’m happy with how I look.”

Only 16,000 of 1.6 million test takers in the National Merit Scholarship Program earn semifinalist status, said Ava Perego, Intern for College of Human Sciences & Education at ULS in Baton Rouge.

Porter’s essay will help her compete for one of approximately 7,500 National Merit Scholarships, which are worth a total of $33 million.

“I feel pretty confident that I’ll move on to finalist status because of how well I did on the (test),” Porter said. “When I took it, I thought I did bad on it — but I didn’t. … I was happy and very surprised.

Porter has earned a 4.2885 cumulative GPA or higher throughout her high school career.

Porter is also a member of the National Honor Society, Beta Club, Key Club and National Art Honor Society and is the recipient of the Capital Area Reading Council Youth Authors’ Award.

Porter said she is also actively involved in both her school and her community through choir and volunteering with local charities and is a member of the National Charity League.

Porter also plays piano and enjoys history, math and science.

Porter said she plans to attend a Southern university and study history and perhaps work as an archivist or librarian.

Porter is the daughter of Lance and Leslie McKenzie Porter of Baton Rouge.