Layne Veneri stands out in a crowd.
Whether he’s leading the award-winning Princeton Senior High School Marching Band onto the gridiron at half-time, rallying an Upward Basketball team or applying for a prestigious scholarship, the young Princeton man makes his audience take notice.
Veneri, a senior preparing to leave high school for West Virginia University soon, was recently selected as a Coca-Cola Scholar, an honor bestowed upon only 250 students from coast to coast annually.
“I was thrilled to death to find out that I got the scholarship,” Veneri said, not quite sure of what to expect from the scholarship that supports more than 1,400 college students each year as part of the four-year award program. “It took a lot of time and effort to go through the application process, and I waited over a month to find out if I made it to this level.”
Veneri, who has always loved music, served as the drum major for the Marching Tiger Band this year, winning first-place drum major honors in all three competitions in which the ensemble participated. In addition, he plays piano for the PSHS Jazz Band, coaches Upward Basketball at Princeton’s First United Methodist Church and excels at academics.
In October, he learned of the opportunity to apply to be a Coca-Cola Scholar. He completed the initial application online, along with roughly 111,000 other high school seniors.
“From that 111,000, they narrowed it down to 2,100, and I received information in early December that I made it to that level,” Veneri said.
The second round of competition included a lengthy information packet, along with four essays detailing everything from his employment experience to his community involvement. In addition, the application required two letters of recommendation and complete transcripts of his high school career.
Out of those 2,000-2,100 students who advanced to the second round, Veneri made the cut into the final 250.
Thanks to that achievement, he will attend the Coca-Cola Scholarship convention in Atlanta in April, where he will take part in an interview to determine whether he makes the final leap into the top 50 scholars in this year’s class. A service activity is also planned for the event, as well as a keynote address by longtime NBC journalist Tom Brokaw.
Veneri is not sure what to expect of the convention, but he’s eager to see what the experience holds.
“It means a lot to me to be selected as a Coca-Cola Scholar. It took a lot of time and required that I be very detailed in order to tell people who I am,” he said. “It’s sort of hard to convey who you are as a person through a sheet of paper.”
Although he’s not positive what to expect from his recent scholarship achievement, Veneri has a very clear path routed post-graduation.
“I’ll be going to West Virginia University in their honors program, and then I’ll go to the West Virginia University School of Dentistry to become a dentist,” he said.
— Contact Tammie Toler at email@example.com.
Layne Veneri stands out in a crowd.
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