Live Oak National Merit students

Live Oak seniors Carter Mencken (left) and Monica Colón won National Merit Scholarships.

Live Oak Classical School seniors Monica Colón and Carter Mencken were recognized this spring as National Merit Finalists for their high scores on the National Merit Preliminary SAT taken during their junior years.

Monica, the daughter of Susan and Carlos Colón of Waco, has been a student at Live Oak for her entire academic life, beginning in the school’s first junior kindergarten class. She is both a National Merit Finalist and National Merit Hispanic Scholar.

Monica has a deep love of literature.

“I just really like books … and writing and thinking about books,” she said. Rhetoric and literature composition are among her favorite classes at Live Oak.

She said she is grateful for the many teachers at Live Oak who are both engaging and approachable. Dr. Alyssa Barnes is one such teacher, who helped her one night at midnight to edit a paper for a scholarship. The paper eventually won Monica first place in the 2018 Essay Contest for the Jane Austen Society.

She presented her senior thesis earlier this year, titled “To Each His Home: A Model for Christian Patriotism.” Monica will continue studying literature at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and minor in history.

Carter has lived in Waco with parents Kimberly and Frederick Mencken for 16 years. He began his studies at Live Oak in fourth grade and enjoys his time as both an athlete and student.

He captained the football and basketball teams and also runs track. Within the classroom, Carter’s interests lie within the field of science. In the seventh and ninth grades, he participated in the science fair, winning an award at Texas Tech University for his research on the effects of runoff within freshwater ecosystems. This culminated in his senior thesis, “Feeding the Future: 870 Million Reasons to Accept GMOs,” where he studied the ethics and biology of GMO (genetically modified organism) crops and their potential to aid society.

Upon graduation, Carter plans to continue pursuing his love for biology, focusing on genetics at Baylor University as a Baylor Science Research Fellow. This selective program is designed for students who are interested in high-level scientific research. He wants to prepare for further study in either medical or scientific research.

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