Eastside High School senior Seth Kimbrell is interested in quantum mechanics and string theory. He's read all of the works of famous physicists Steven Hawking and Carl Sagan and hopes to one day become a physics professor and researcher at a major university himself.
It shouldn't be shocking then that Kimbrell was named a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist in September, putting him in the top one percent of American high school seniors.
Around 1.5 million students applied, but Kimbrell was one of only 16,000 students advance through two cuts and be named a semifinalist. Students must take the preliminary SAT or the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test and meet other program requirements in order to be eligible to be a merit scholarship recipient.
The majority of semifinalists, around 15,000, will be named merit scholarship finalists in February. The winners of the Merit Scholarships will then be chosen based on the finalist's academic record, information about the school's curricula and grading system, two sets of test scores, the high school official's written recommendation, information about the student's activities and leadership and the finalist's essay.
Kimbrell has excelled in several academic areas, including posting high test scores, being in the running for school valedictorian and participating in dual enrollment at Georgia Perimeter College.
He takes English, psychology and geology at Georgia Perimeter, and is enrolled in advanced placement economics and Latin V at Eastside. Upon graduation, Seth will have earned 21 college credits.
"I absolutely love dual enrollment," said Seth. "It teaches you how college classes work, and you quickly learn that it's a bad idea to skip class. You have to have the motivation to go to class. But if you go, you do have more opportunities to learn different things that Eastside doesn't have, like geology or forensic science."
He's also been involved outside the classroom and is a member of cross country team, Academic Team and Junior Classical.
He's hoping to attend Yale University, but has Georgia Tech as a backup plan. Texas A&M has also notified him that he will receive scholarship money if he is named a finalist.
"I'd like to be a professor at a good four-year university where I can be a researcher at their science facility," said Seth. "I'd like to be a professor but still mainly be there for research. I have always loved reading research. I've read all of Steven Hawking and Carl Sagan and my favorite book is definitely, Hawking's, "A Brief History of Time."
"Seth is one of those students that comes along almost once in a lifetime," said Tina Daniel-Reasey, Eastside guidance counselor and department chair. "He's just a very well-rounded kid. He participates in sports and does well here and at GPC. He is effortlessly intelligent, extremely well read and generally a nice kid. We haven't had a student in a long time who has been a semifinalist with the kind of test scores he's had. He has an extremely bright future ahead of him."
"Seth is but one of any number of students who hail from Newton County capable of college work on the level of a Yale," added Superintendent Gary Mathews. "To say that we're proud of his accomplishments is truly an understatement."