While most other16-year-olds are taking their summer vacation from high school, Richard Davis is preparing to begin studies at Mercer University this fall.
And with his 18-year-old sister, Meryll, having recently graduated high school as well, it turns out that there will be two Mercer freshmen in the Davis family.
Richard is the recipient of the prestigious Jackson W. Tarver Memorial Scholarship, which provides full tuition, room and board to an outstanding male high school senior participating in Mercer's scholarship competition. This year, 180 of Mercer's incoming freshmen competed for the award.
The scholarship honors the late Jackson "Jack" Williams Tarver, Mercer's class of 1938 and former president and publisher of the Atlanta Journal & Constitution during the 1960s. He served as chairman of the Associated Press from 1977 to 1983 and was also a great civic leader.
After Richard graduated as valedictorian from the Georgia Academy of Mathematics, Engineering and Sciences (GAMES), a two-year post-secondary option program in which students simultaneously complete their high school diploma and an associate degree from Middle Georgia College, he felt ready to enter a new University setting.
"I wanted a school that is strong in many areas," Richard said. "Since I haven't decided on a major, I am interested in learning for the sake of learning right now, and Mercer's College of Liberal Arts can give me a well rounded education."
With Richard's experience in the GAMES program, he feels that his age will not affect his adjustment to the college atmosphere. Students in GAMES are required to live on the Middle Georgia College campus, and though adult supervision is provided, students are able to experience life away from home.
Still, because they did not attend the same high school, Richard admits that beginning college at the same time and place as his older sister will make it all unique.
"It will actually be very nice to be here at the same time as my sister," Richard said. "We are very close and enjoy each other's company, but we do have different interests to pursue on campus."
While Meryll will focus on a Pre-Medicine track and play soccer, Richard has interests in the areas of theology, history, science, math and literature.
"I think it will be fine for us to be in college together," said Meryll. "We get along very well, and as long as we aren't in any of the same classes, it shouldn't be that weird."
This fall, Richard anticipates studies that will lead him to his ultimate goal of being a writer. Along the way he plans to soak up as much knowledge as he can on various subjects.
"My primary motivation in life is Christianity," Richard said. "Seeking God has led me to pursue theology, which led to literature. I also love math, mathematical sciences and studying how theology is involved with historical culture and the sciences."
Theological writer C.S. Lewis has also inspired Richard. As a future author, Richard hopes to merge his love for the written word with his interests and his faith.
"I most want to become skilled in a scientific field, combine that with theology, and write apologetics and fiction," he said. "This way, I can serve God with my talents."
Editor's note: Photos are available upon request. Contact Sonal Patel at firstname.lastname@example.org or (678) 547-6431.