Noah Watson, a graduated homeschool student at the Alma Mater Academy Homeschool of Paducah, was named a college-sponsored National Merit Scholar for the University of Mississippi.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced more than 3,300 winners of National Merit Scholarships Tuesday that were financed by U.S. colleges and universities.

Watson was the only student from the Jackson Purchase region named to the college-sponsored National Merit Scholarship. Hope Hodges, a graduate of McCracken County High School, earned a National Merit Scholarship issued by the scholarship corporation in May.

“I’m very excited and very thankful to everybody who helped me get to this point — the people who wrote me a letter of recommendation and who helped me throughout the academic process,” Watson said.

“I’m also excited because it’s given me a really great opportunity to go to college all paid for. It’s a really great opportunity that a lot of people don’t get to have, and I’m very thankful for that.”

The Academic Excellence Scholarship National Merit Semifinalist/Finalist Award sponsored by the University of Mississippi is valued at $56,272 — $14,068 per year — and includes full tuition, a standard double-occupancy room on campus and, in Watson’s case, a full non-resident scholarship valued at $16,272 per year.

Watson also earned the National Merit Finalist Award, which is valued at $4,000 over four years, and the Barnard Scholarship given to National Merit finalists, valued at $20,000 over four years

“(I chose Mississippi) mostly for financial reasons,” he said. “They have a full-ride scholarship for National Merit finalists if you put them as your first-choice school, so I was very blessed to be able to get a very good scholarship to them.”

Before choosing the University of Mississippi, Watson was looking at Alabama, Kentucky and Vanderbilt as college possibilities.

Watson was a 2019 Kentucky Governor’s Scholar and earned an Independence Bank McCracken County Community Board Scholarship and Kentucky Farm Bureau Scholarship.

He was the 2017 Kentucky 4-H Communications Day state champion and took first place in individual air pistol in the 2019 Kentucky 4-H shooting sports competition. He earned the 2019 SLIM Award (Servant Leaders in Ministry) from the Diocese of Owensboro and President’s Volunteer Service Award-Gold.

Watson was active in 4-H shooting sports, St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church Youth Group, 4-H Teen Club, Generation Joshua Club and the L3 Youth Theology Institute at Brescia University.

Watson is the son of Clint and Rachel Watson and has not chosen a field of study at the University of Mississippi.

“I’m considering several different things — maybe engineering, possibly electrical,” he said.

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