- Lenoir County Public Schools
North Lenoir senior short-listed for two top scholarships
North Lenoir High School senior Bryant De Luna-Peralta is closing in on two of the nation’s most prestigious merit-based scholarships.
Bryant, 17, of La Grange, is a finalist for the Levine Scholarship, UNC-Charlotte’s top scholarship, and is a semi-finalist for the Park Scholarship to North Carolina State University. Each four-year scholarship is valued at more than $100,000 for in-state residents and comes with an itinerary of summer programs designed to develop leadership skills and social awareness.
And each draws applications from thousands of hopeful high school seniors. And each has Bryant De Luna on its short list.
Based on his academic record, recommendations and his response to essay questions, Bryant heads into the final weeks of competition as one of 76 finalists for the Levine and among the 445 semi-finalists for the Park.
He interviews on Saturday in Wilmington for the Park, hoping to be among the 112 students invited to N.C. State for Final Selection Activities on Feb. 21-22. He will be in Charlotte Feb. 9-10 for the deciding Levine interviews.
“It’s been a long road to get here but I’m glad it’s turned out the way it has,” Bryant said.
That journey – through La Grange Elementary and E.B. Frink Middle to North Lenoir – has stoked his desire “to do more academically,” he said, crediting his high school faculty and administration with expanding his idea of the future.
“They gave me many chances to push myself further than I thought I could,” he said. “They’ve made me want to pursue more, and they were the one who really built my interest in the career I want to go into.”
His interest in computer science is rooted in a Principals of Engineering class he took as a sophomore and bloomed during his junior year, when LCPS launched computer coding instruction in its middle and high schools.
“That class solidified in my mind how much I enjoyed this stuff,” Bryant said. “Making the games and working on random software made we want to go home and learn programming languages.”
As a senior, Bryant is focusing on college-level classes through Lenoir Community College – he expects to graduate high school with about 30 college credits – but he is still connected to North Lenoir as part of its corps of student tutors and as president of the Spanish Club, vice president of the Science Olympiad team, senior director of the Key Club and a member of the math club. He is also a member of Junior Leadership Lenoir, a year-long youth development program sponsored by the Lenoir County Education Foundation.
When an essay prompt in the Park application process asked for examples of leadership, however, Bryant wrote about his volunteer work at Kennedy Home, where for more than a year he has led a crew in maintenance tasks, worked with residents and generally done whatever needs doing. “I’m the guy who makes sure everything is done right,” he said.
When another essay prompt asked about his experience with a “group of very diverse people,” he brought up his experience last summer as a math student at N.C. Governor’s School, one of three North Lenoir students chosen to attend the very selective summer program.
“I met so many people who thought about life differently and have experienced many different things I never knew of,” he said. “It made me accept people for who they are and exposed me to new ways of thinking about the world we live in.”
The oldest of three children of Anselmo De Luna and Yazmin Peralta, Bryant will be the first person in his family to graduate from high school.
“Not only is Bryant an extremely bright and confident young man with a strong work ethic, he is acutely goal-oriented and personable,” Jennifer Hollingworth, his school counselor at North Lenoir, said. “Always with a smile, he works hard to please others. Wise beyond his years, Bryant has frequently visited my office since the ninth grade to discuss his ideas and plans for the future. I don’t have a single doubt that he will graduate from North Lenoir and achieve his goals, making his dreams a reality.”
UNC-Charlotte expects to award about 20 Levine Scholarships. About 40 Park Scholars will be named.