Photo courtesy Kennedy O’Dell
Eudora News and Information ~ www.eudorareporter.com
Eudora High senior Kennedy O’Dell, daughter of Amy Booth and Ben O’Dell, has become Eudora’s very first National Merit Finalist. It’s a prestigious award, and not easy to come by. Finalists are chosen based on their academic record, score on the PSAT, teacher recommendations and an essay. Students’ leadership roles in the community and in their high schools are also evaluated. Obviously those who become National Merit Finalists have done little slacking off in their school career.
When I asked Kennedy what she thought about being the very first finalist in Eudora’s history, she said, “I thought there had been others so I didn’t think it was a big deal. But I realized it was a very big deal when I immediately began to get college scholarships.”
She did indeed begin getting college scholarship offers. In fact, the University of Oklahoma offered Kennedy $100,00 to come there. But she turned down the offer because along with majoring in Public Affairs and obtaining a certificate in Arabic and American studies, Kennedy wants to be on the college track and field team, throwing the shot-put and discus as she has done in high school. She didn’t feel like she would have much opportunity at a Division I school.
Kennedy’s dad recommended that she apply at some Ivy League schools. She took his advice and right away she got an offer from Princeton University. In fact, a Princeton track and field coach called her and said he really wanted her to come there and join the team. It seemed almost too easy to Kennedy. She accepted the offer, and Kennedy will head to Princeton, New Jersey this fall. She has a lot of education ahead of her to accomplish her goals.
“My friends make fun of me,” said Kennedy, “and ask if I’ll ever leave school. But I love it so I’ll probably be in school for a long, long time!”
Kennedy O’Dell has had quite a high school career. Besides being at the top of her class academically, she has been Student Council president, choir president, editor of the school newspaper, a SADD member, a volleyball player, a member of the track team, and a four-year member of the Scholars Bowl team. She’s been in theatrical productions each year and has been a part of Writing Club.
She’s also been involved in the community, serving as a past president of her 4-H Club, spending a summer working with Habitat for Humanity and is currently involved with the Paul Davis for Governor campaign. A busy young woman indeed!
Kennedy is excited to see what the future holds, and the opportunities provided by becoming a National Merit Finalist. “The best thing is that the title will stick with me,” Kennedy stated. “It will help me when I am applying for grad school.” And no doubt it will help her when she is someday looking for that perfect job.
What is Kennedy’s advice for other students who would like to achieve this same goal? “Calm down. Take a deep breath. Remember you can do it.”
Kennedy O’Dell has certainly done it. The community wishes her the very best as she heads off into a new phase of her life this fall.