Julian Seghers

Julian Seghers

As Heights High School’s valedictorian, some might be surprised to hear the Julian Seghers doesn’t usually think he’s the smartest person in any room.

But it’s that mindset, he said, which has allowed him to excel in his academic journey. And he was rewarded for his academic efforts in recent months with a prestigious college scholarship earlier this year. In April, Seghers was named a President’s Scholar at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas.

“Many peers of mine, I’d argue that they’re more naturally gifted (with figuring stuff out),” Seghers said. “But having a good work ethic is just as important.”

The scholarship, which is valued at around $320,000, will cover tuition, fees, room and board, as well as study abroad and mentorship opportunities for four years at the school. Seghers was one of just 20 incoming SMU students to receive the honor out of hundreds of applicants from around the world, which the school says is its highest academic honor based on grades, academic achievement on standardized tests, and leadership.

The recently-graduated senior finished his high school career with a 4.9 GPA, and was a National Merit Scholar his junior year. He was also a member of Heights’ finance club, golf and tennis teams, the National Honor Society, and the school’s the IB diploma program.

“The President’s Scholars Program has provided opportunity to some of the nation’s brightest students, who in turn enrich the university environment with their intellectual vitality, diverse talents, and campus involvement,” the President’s Scholar website reads.

Earlier this spring, Seghers attended a two-day interview session for potential scholars in Dallas as one of 64 finalists for the scholarship. About a week later, during a Houston-area meet and greet event for prospective students, he found out the university’s highest academic honor was his.

“I was containing all this excitement and had to be quiet, but I couldn’t even focus on the presentation,” he said. “I was losing my mind that I had gotten it.”

As to how he got the scholarship, he said it all came back down to his desire to always be better and being open to not always knowing the most in the room. From constantly asking questions to simply staying humble, he said he has always harbored that work ethic.

And while some of the other prospective scholars hung out at a school-organized party the night before the interviews in late March, Seghers said he was in his hotel room studying a thick binder of extra essays, mock interviews, and more in preparation for his 9 a.m. call time.

“This was the most important thing in my entire life. I went in thinking ‘This is it.’ It honestly was kind of overwhelming,” Seghers said.” Being able to keep my calm and cool, but acknowledging how much they were investing in me – it was a lot…I really didn’t want to mess it up.”

As evident by the end result, his dedication paid off. Seghers has also been named an SMU Cox School of Business BBA Scholar and been accepted into the University Honors Program. He plans to double major in business and biological Sciences at SMU, partly because he wants to keep his options open.

He was blown away by SMU’s business school, he said, but also said his family has long been involved in medicine.

“I want to be a place where I’m actively making an impact on the people around me, having a chance to lead people and influence them,” he said. “(SMU) is letting me balance my passion for this, because it allows me to maximize my different pathways.”

Seghers has accomplished plenty in his academic career. He is a valedictorian and a President’s Scholar. Late last month, he won the Dr. Kenneth Lay $4,000 scholarship award from the Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Association of Greater Houston. During his high school days, he helped grow Heights’ debate team from around 10-12 his freshman year to more than 40 by his senior year.

But wouldn’t ever dream that he already knows it all, or has every skill necessary to achieve his dreams. He knows it will always take more work.

“If anything, you don’t need to be the smartest person in the room to be successful,” he said. “Always knowing there’s something more you can learn allows you to do well.”

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