National Merit Commended Scholar

Copperas Cove High School student Dustyn Shehane is congratulated by Cove High School Principal Miguel Timarky on being named a National Merit Commended Scholar based on her scores on the PSAT.

Dustyn Shehane is what competitors might call a sleeper. The quiet Copperas Cove High School student was named a Commended Scholar in the National Merit Scholarship Program and her classmates never saw it coming.

“I am not a straight A student,” Shehane said. “I just test well. I don’t even make that good of grades. But I think it’s a motivational thing. I used to make good grades in junior high. Then I got in high school, and I took on a really rigorous course schedule. I failed (advanced placement) chemistry because I was taking too heavy a load trying to get ahead.”

Shehane said she has learned to pace herself over her high school career and while she was ranked ninth in the class out of more than 500 at one point, her position has slipped. But, she is not bothered by it because she has learned not to be competitive with her classmates but comfortable with who she is. But she is still unclear on her future career path.

“In junior high, I was in all advanced classes. It was all or nothing for me, and I carried that into high school,” Shehane said. “But this year, I have taken a regular class schedule, and it’s been really enjoyable. It’s been the best year ever with a lot less pressure.”

When Shehane took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, she scored 1310 as a sophomore and 1420 as a junior resulting in her being named a Commended Scholar, a step just below a National Merit Scholar semifinalist.

“I tend to test pretty well. It kind of annoys some of my friends. Some people get nervous. But I tend to test better than what I think I actually am. I am lucky like that,” Shehane said. “I was happy to see an increase in my score.”

After leaving the pressure of the heavy class load behind, Shehane decided her junior year that she would not attend college. But after her extremely high test scores came in, so did the push to attend college. “I had ruled out college, but now I feel like I would be dumb not to consider it,” Shehane said. “The reason I put forth a lot of effort on tests is to prove to myself that even though I am not going to college, I am not stupid.

“Part of me wants more security that comes with a job with a degree, but I do not know yet where I am going to school or if I am going. I never thought I would be a senior who would be trying to figure out what they are wanting to do.” Shehane said. “For the longest time, I had it all figured out. I wanted to be an architect and took all kinds of math classes. Now, I am not sure. I am smart. I will figure it out. I know I will be successful.”

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