National Merit Scholar aims high

Published 10:26 pm Friday, May 31, 2013

A Nansemond-Suffolk Academy senior who will graduate Saturday as a National Merit Scholarship finalist has her sights set high.

Renee Lassen said she wants to be an engineer in the Navy, then “continue down that line.”

Renee Lassen, a National Merit Scholarship finalist from Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, has her sights set on a career with the Navy. She will attend Vanderbilt University in the fall.

Renee Lassen, a National Merit Scholarship finalist from Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, has her sights set on a career with the Navy. She will attend Vanderbilt University in the fall.

“My big lifelong dream was to be secretary of the Navy some day,” the teen said.

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“We’ll see.”

The recently announced National Merit Vanderbilt University Scholarship will help her toward that goal. She will attend Vanderbilt in Nashville in the fall and also received an ROTC Supplement Scholarship and Naval Officers’ Training Corps Scholarship.

Lassen said she became a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist after taking the PSAT in her junior year.

Before being named a finalist, she sent in an application with an essay, and the results also hinged on her SAT scores.

“I was very excited,” Lassen said about being named a National Merit Scholarship finalist.

“That has been something I had seen people before me get.

“I knew it was a huge honor — it’s less than one percent in the country. When I found out I was a recipient, I was pretty shocked and pretty proud.

“My dad was going around and telling everyone. I was like, ‘Dad, don’t embarrass me!’”

Lassen has attended NSA since she was 3 years old.

She names math and science as her favorite subjects — unsurprising for a probable engineering major — but was hard-pressed to recall her fondest memory of her time at the school.

“I have so many,” she said.

Chorus and theater have been her two main activities outside the classroom. “I have also played a bunch of different sports,” she said, such as volleyball and track.

Her thoughts on leaving Suffolk change every day, she said, adding she’s “really excited” one day and pondering the prospect of leaving family and friends behind the next.

“I think it will be a fantastic experience” since she has never really lived outside Suffolk, she said.

Lassen told rising seniors, “Know what you want and don’t be afraid to have to work hard to get it.

“Of course it’s going to come with disappointments if you don’t achieve it.”

NSA “gives you the opportunity to really get involved and figure out what you like,” she said.

Lassen said she visited the Vanderbilt campus in Nashville last year. “I just fell in love with the city and the college and everything about it,” she said.

“I listen to country music and I found my cowgirl boots — I got a sparkly pair.”