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Millennium Scholarship: It pays to get good grades in Nevada

It’s almost as if the state of Nevada is paying kids to graduate from high school and all you have to do is get good grades.

Two former Trojans golfers from the class of 2016 did just that and are taking advantage of the money.

Natalie and Kellie Mercer are twin sisters and they both were awarded the Governor Guinn Millennium Scholarship and received the maximum benefit of $10,000.

Not all high school students take advantage of the funds available. In 2013, the Nevada state treasurer said there were 112,204 students eligible with 77,693 taking advantage of the funds.

How students learn about the scholarship

Their high school counselor was responsible for letting them know they were eligible for the scholarship.

It didn’t require any research or a lot of legwork to get the scholarship.

“If you maintain your GPA, your high school counselor will then submit your name to the governor’s list,” Natalie Mercer said. And that’s all she had to do for the Millennium scholarship.

All the information she needed for the scholarship was announced at school.

“We always have been told at school assemblies that this is what could happen if you maintain your grades,” Natalie Mercer said.

Keep your options open

She also prepared herself for other scholarships by taking the hardest classes available.

“For my freshman year I looked at the scholarships and determined which ones I was going to go for,” Natalie Mercer said. “And I had to decide which classes I was going to take. I determined that I was going to take honors and AP classes and maintain the highest GPA I could.”

Natalie received a scholarship for $6,000, in addition to the Millennium.

Being disciplined and motivated counts

When looking for college scholarships, it helps if you are driven and well-disciplined.

The girls believe playing a sport made them more disciplined in high school.

Natalie Mercer said it was challenging at times to play golf and maintain her grades.

“You have to set your priorities,” she said. “Academics always comes first before sports. There were times I had to miss a practice or two to study for an AP test. You find a good balance and as long as you are committed to both, you make it work.”

Their dad, James Mercer, said discipline and motivation to succeed were never a problem for the girls.

“When they were not in school they were usually studying some kind of book,” he said. “When they weren’t doing that, they were at ROTC, or golfing. I even had to stop them from reading at the dinner table.”

Their mother, Angela Mercer, agreed.

“The amazing thing is these girls were both internally driven,” Angela Mercer said. “They did golf, ROTC and were active in church and managed to get things done.”

Both girls demonstrated how disciplined they were when they went to state in golf. Natalie Mercer went her sophomore year and Kellie Mercer went her junior year.

In addition, the girls had no problems finishing with above-average GPAs.

Kellie Mercer finished high school with a 3.46 GPA and Natalie Mercer finished with a 4.0.

Reap the benefits

In the end, the two sisters were able to benefit from the scholarships they received.

“Right now I am working on my associates for applied sciences in human services. I want to eventually get my master’s degree in psychology,” Kellie Mercer said.

Eventually she wants to transfer to one of the state universities.

Natalie is currently studying to be a substance abuse counselor.

Kellie continues to apply for scholarships.

She has applied for seven this year and as long as she is enrolled in college she says there is an endless amount available to college students.

“I have the attitude if I can get this one, then I can get others,” she said. “The less I have to pay for it, the better. I don’t want to come out of college so much in debt. I want to start my career as debt-free as I can.”

Basic requirements for the Millennium Scholarship

Students must have at least a 3.25 GPA upon graduation and have completed the minimum core requirements. You also must have been a resident of Nevada for at least two of your high school years. Also starting in 2016 students can qualify based on a sufficient SAT or ACT test score.

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at vhee@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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