Teen of the Week: Parkersburg South senior Nick Murphy eager to study chemical
PARKERSBURG — Parkersburg South senior Nick Murphy has always been an overachiever in the classroom when it comes to lessons or tests, but then he found he was among the 161 seniors nationwide to be part of the 57th class of 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholar.
The South senior said that he was taken back by the honor, not expecting to be one of the recipients. He thought his odds were low, as only one male and female senior in each state is chosen.
“I didn’t expect to win it, because they take two per state, a boy and a girl. They always say, ‘Someone out there is better than you.’ I just did not expect to make it this far at all and I’m very flattered that they chose me,” Murphy said. “They take test scores and then they send you an email if you’re at the top and you can apply for it if you want to. I just figured, let’s give it a shot, maybe make my parents proud and it worked out.”
Honorees are based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, community service, leadership and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.
Fifteen seniors also are chosen at-large, 20 in the arts and 20 in career and technical education from all 50 states, in addition to two from each state.
Murphy also was part of a trio in West Virginia recognized for accomplishments in academics, the arts and career and technical education fields.
Murphy said having his ACT score in the top 1 percent in the nation got him qualified for the first round. The second round of the process had him having to write 12 essays and filling out multiple forms.
In the past, winners would get a paid trip to the Capitol in Washington, D.C., with a teacher who influenced them and sit in on a session of Congress and meet with the U.S. Department of Education.
Murphy earned a 4.38 grade point average while taking AP classes at South and taking college courses through North Dakota University. Murphy was a member of the student council and National Honor Society and played on the soccer and football teams.
Murphy also has been playing piano since the first grade, recently competing in solo competitions and accompanying the school’s choir.
“Kind of glad all the school work is over, I had a great time. I’m just really excited that I am about to graduate and I’m really excited to go on to the next step,” Murphy said. “I’ve always been a soccer player first and then my senior year, my friends said we need a kicker for the football team. So I did that too and that was a blast. I think if I re-did high school I definitely would have kicked all four years, but you can’t redo it now.”
Murphy was accepted at Stanford University where he plans to major in chemical engineering. Murphy said he’s been fascinated with the job since he was a child as both of his parents are chemical engineers.
“Both my parents are chemical engineers, I’ve always been very interested in their work. Taking your kid to Work Day was a blast,” Murphy said. “Once I get there, I could change my major after a year but I’m pretty confident in my choice.”
Not able to attend the California campus in person due to COVID restrictions, Murphy said he likes what he has seen of the campus and the surrounding area through virtual meetings.
He said the campus is perfect for him as it’s not too rural or too urban, it is a perfect middle ground and has a similar feel as Parkersburg South. In addition, Stanford has an engineering program that will give him opportunities to research while in college.
“I just love the look and feel of Stanford’s campus, I think it fits me really well. It’s big, but it feels small. “ Murphy said. “Obviously Stanford has like 8,000 undergraduates, which is a lot bigger than South. But when you look at the scale of how big colleges and how big high schools get, I feel Stanford’s very similar.”
Tyler Bennett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org