desk stock file photo school

During a tour of the West Jefferson High School with coronavirus precautions it can be seen that each desk in the classroom has a grey or red sticker on the top corner in Harvey, La. Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. Each period, students will be asked to alternate their use of desks and to clean them off after each class. The school is scheduled to open on August 26. (Photo by Max Becherer,, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Five high school seniors from Baton Rouge were among 11 in Louisiana named in the first group of winners in the 66th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Of the other winners, two are from Metairie, while the rest are from Covington, New Orleans, Ruston and Shreveport.

The Baton Rouge winners are:

  • Brennan M. Campesi, a student at Catholic High, will receive his scholarship from Johnson & Johnson, a pharmaceutical company that also makes medical devices and various consumer goods. He says he's interested in a legal career.
  • Jillian G. Eskew, a student at St. Joseph’s Academy, will receive her scholarship from Occidental Petroleum Charitable Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the oil-and-gas exploration company. She says she's undecided about her future career.
  • Jay M. Iyer, a student at Baton Rouge Magnet High, will receive his scholarship from Motorola Solutions, a communications equipment company. He says he's interested in a career in medicine.
  • Riley C. Jenkins, a student at Baton Rouge Magnet High, will receive her scholarship from BASF, an international chemical company. She says she's interested in a career in environmental science.
  • Benjamin T. Mayeux, a student at Catholic High, will receive his scholarship from Liberty Mutual, an insurance company. He says he's interested in a career in aerospace engineering.

More than 1,000 high school seniors this year have won National Merit Scholarship awards financed by about 140 corporations, company foundations and other business organizations.

Scholars were selected from students who advanced to the finalist level in the National Merit Scholarship competition and met criteria of their scholarship sponsors. Corporate sponsors provide National Merit Scholarships for finalists who are children of their employees, residents of communities the company serves, or those who plan to pursue college majors or careers the sponsor wishes to encourage.

Most of these awards are renewable for up to four years of college undergraduate study and provide annual stipends that range from $1,000 to $10,000 per year.

More scholarship winners are scheduled to be announced May 12, June 2 and July 12. By the conclusion of this year’s competition, about 7,500 students will have won National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million.

Email Charles Lussier at and follow him on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.