Lawrence School senior and Brecksville native Grace Ford has been named a National Merit Finalist in the 58th Annual National Merit Program. This places her in a group of students representing less than one percent of high school graduating seniors in the United States!
To become a finalist, students must submit a detailed scholarship application with information about the semifinalist's academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, and honors and awards received.
This is a remarkable achievement for any student, but even more so for Ford, who has a language-based learning difference. A top performer at her former highly-rated public school district, Ford nonetheless struggled with time management, memorization, and organization. Because her learning difference prevents her from easily memorizing formulas and sequences, trying to master typical drills—such as math facts or scientific tables—proved particularly difficult.
While Grace has difficulty with memorization, at the same time she also excels in quickly grasping concepts and learning advanced material—so much so, that even in her public school honors classes, she often felt the pace was too slow.
“My brain is like a sponge, so I learn material very quickly. In my old school, I would learn a concept and want to move on and work ahead of the class. I don’t like repetition. Once I understand a process, I don’t need to apply it over and over. I would get impatient when I was unable to move ahead to the next concept, and I would just want to read my book or do my own thing in class. Time management was a problem for me. Teachers respected me, but did not understand my learning style.”
In eighth grade, Ford came to Lawrence School, which serves students with language-based learning differences (such as dyslexia and ADHD) from over 70 communities in northeast Ohio. She credits her teachers for taking their time to truly understand her: “When I came to Lawrence, teachers didn’t automatically ‘get’ me, but they were willing to learn, understand and respect that I am a unique person with a unique learning style.”
Last fall Ford learned she was one of 16,000 semifinalists. A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed or recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT scores the confirm the student's earlier performance on the qualifying test.
Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring. Every finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 scholarships that will be awarded on a state representational basis.
Currently, Ford is earning college credit by taking English Composition II and Analytic Geometry/Calculus I at the University of Akron. She plans to attend college next fall, and is currently considering both Cornell University and the University of California at Davis. She isn’t entirely sure what career she eventually wants to pursue, but she does know that she wants to use her strengths in mathematics and science to help animals in some capacity. This will most likely be recognized in a career in veterinary medicine or zoology.
Ford’s mother, Anne Ford, sums up her Lawrence experience by saying, “Grace continues to excel at and beyond her potential. She hasn’t just received enough of an education at Lawrence School. She’s received more.”
To read a student profile on Grace Ford, please visit www.lawrenceschool.org/admissions/profiles/grace.