Johnston County

Two from Johnston headed to N.C. State as Park Scholars


West Johnston High School senior Chris Lerma and South Johnston senior Jessica Autry will join the N.C. State University class of 2021 as Park Scholars.

The new class comes from a record-setting pool of 2,150 applicants from 42 states and 97 of North Carolina’s 100 counties, according to the university.

Lerma, who plans to study engineering, looks forward to his Park Scholar experience.

“I feel like it will definitely become a sort of catalyst to achieve my dreams,” Lerma said. “The financial aspect of it is great, but I really enjoyed the community I had with all of the other Park members I have met, and that will strengthen me in being able to succeed in my career path.”

Lerma is president of the West Johnston Science Olympiad team, a senior class representative and a member of the National Honor Society. He is co-founder and leader of the All Stars STEM Club, is initiating a student-led Spanish-interpretation team and maintains his high school’s recycling program.

Autry plans to major in animal science. She is president of South Johnston’s FFA chapter, is a member of the National Honor Society and a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society at Johnston Community College.

“I am so honored to receive this scholarship, and I cannot thank everyone enough for their gracious help and support,” said Autry. “I am very excited to begin my journey at North Carolina State University.”

The scholarship covers tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies, travel and grants to fund professional and personal enrichment experiences such as research, service activities and conferences.