Beaufort High’s Henry a National Merit finalist

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By Mike McCombs

Caleb Henry was raised in a Clemson family.

His mother and his father both attended the Upstate school. But the Beaufort High School senior won’t be following in their footsteps.

A National Merit Scholar finalist, Henry will study computer science at the University of South Carolina Honors College.

“Originally, I preferred Clemson. But USC gave me way more money. In the end (my parents) seemed to care a lot less then I thought they would,” Henry said, laughing.

It was a pleasant surprise when Henry was named a National Merit semifinalist in the fall. And since the vast majority of semifinalists become finalists, the news in February that Henry had advanced wasn’t all that big a shock.

But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a big deal.

The actual award itself doesn’t do that much – the actual scholarship is pretty small – but the connections do a lot, said Henry, who is carrying a 5.2 GPA at Beaufort.

“A lot of schools offer scholarships for finalists,” Henry said. “No strings attached. It ended up making my choice a lot easier when it came to in-state schools.”

Earning National Merit finalist guarantees him a $40,000 scholarship offer from USC, and he was picked to be a Top Scholar for USC honors. Being picked as a Top Scholar is a great opportunity guaranteeing him at minimum $40,000 and up to $80,000.

Those scholarships, along with the Palmetto Fellows award that Henry has already qualified for, mean he has a full ride to USC.

Those scholarships also mean, for all intents and purposes, Henry has moved on from a finalist to a National Merit winner, since he can’t win any scholarship money from National Merit now.

“If you accept one of the scholarships from a school, it disqualifies you from getting one of the smaller scholarships (National Merit offers),” Henry explained.

But, scholarships in hand, that certainly doesn’t dampen Henry’s spirits.

“I like Columbia and I’m definitely looking forward to college,” Henry said. “It’s definitely going to be a big change from here.”

Mike McCombs is the Editor-in-Chief of The Island News and can be reached at