Local Merit Scholar semifinalist hopes for career abroad

Political Poker
October 22, 2013
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Political Poker
October 22, 2013
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October 22, 2013

Degrees in language and logic will likely be the first stepping stones of local National Merit Scholar semifinalist Derek Marshall’s college path.

“I’ve come a long way in just a few years of studying the (French) language,” Marshall said. “I’m in French 4 class now, and that is the highest French course you can take in high school.”

Marshall, a senior at the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts, is one of only three National Merit Scholar semifinalists from the Tri-parish area, and one of five at LSMSA this year.

“I was surprised,” he said. “I made a 31 on my American College Test, so I’m good at taking tests. To be a National Merit Scholar semifinalist is a pretty big deal. There are only 16,000 in the country each year. My parents are both happy about it, too. They may have been happier than me to tell you the truth.”

A former Terrebonne High School student, Marshall, 17, has been at LSMSA since his junior year. He recently applied to both Tulane University and Louisiana State University and plans to double major in philosophy and French.

“I really want to go to Tulane and then go on to law school,” Marshall said. “I want to work for an international corporation, hopefully, somewhere in France.”

Should Marshall’s hopes come to pass, he will have no trouble speaking French.

Marshall won second place in the French Prose division of the Annual Foreign Language Festival at Southeastern University in April. He also received a certificate of honor from Association Americaine des Professeurs de Francais (The American Association of Teachers of French), the largest national association of French teachers in the world.

“Both my grandparents spoke French, and I didn’t know they spoke French until after they had passed,” Marshall said. “I started taking French classes, and it just really grew on me. French is my favorite subject, and history and English are tied for a close second.”

At LSMSA, Marshall is a member of the school’s French Club, as well as a French tutor. He also serves as a residential peer life mentor, helping new students transition into living at the school.

Karen Marshall and Frank Marshall, the young man’s parents, are also happy with the education their son is receiving at the school.

“It was hard for us to give him up at such a young age, but it has been worth it,” Frank said. “His mother and I couldn’t be prouder. He is such a responsible young man. I always taught him that responsibility is a virtue. He is connecting all the dots in his life.”

Marshall recalled how his son’s aspirations in life changed over the years from wanting to be writer, a heart doctor and now a lawyer.

“His mom worked at a doctor’s office,” Frank said. “We bought him a heart model from a medical supply store, and he took it apart.

“I really hope he gets to travel in his career. I worked in Hong Kong when I was younger, and it was a wonderful experience.”

Dr. David Wood, Marshall’s French teacher at LSMSA, also hopes the young man’s future will hold travel abroad and opportunities to use his strong grasp of the French language.

“Derek is one of the most gifted students I have ever taught,” Wood said. “He has developed a marvelous accent after only about three years of studying the language. I would love to see him combine French with business or law or international studies. I think he will enjoy living in France or visiting there frequently.

“I am very proud of him. He is an amazing young man.”

Local Merit Scholar