He’s 11 and ‘one of the brightest students in the world’

For the Record
Posted 9/21/21

Eleven-year-old Justin Guldan from Erwin has been honored as one of the brightest students in the world by the The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY).

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He’s 11 and ‘one of the brightest students in the world’

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Eleven-year-old Justin Guldan from Erwin has been honored as one of the brightest students in the world by the The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY).

Justin, a student at Faith Education Academy in Dunn, was honored for his exceptional performance on the SAT, ACT, or similar assessment taken as part of the CTY Talent Search. The center uses above-grade-level testing to identify advanced students from around the world and to provide a clear picture of their true academic abilities.

Justin is the son of Heather Marks-Jones and her husband, Dustin. He has two brothers, 23-year-old Craig A. Marks III, who lives and works in Raleigh, and 9-year-old Jason. He has two cats, Binx and Kobe, and a dog named Henney. Justin is a member of First Baptist Church of Erwin where he enjoys singing in the children’s choir and is active in the youth group. Pastor Thomas Greene baptized him in April.

Justin was one of nearly 19,000 students from 84 countries who joined the Center for Talented Youth in the 2020-21 Talent Search year. Less than 20% of CTY Talent Search participants qualified for CTY High Honors Awards like Justin did. Honorees also qualified for CTY’s online and summer programs, through which bright students can form a community of engaged learners with other bright students from around the world.

“We are thrilled to celebrate these students,” said Virginia Roach, CTY’s executive director. “In a year that was anything but ordinary, their love of learning shined through, and we are excited to help cultivate their growth as scholars and citizens throughout high school, college, and beyond.”

Justin plays soccer and baseball for Erwin Parks and Rec. He also started playing the piano about a year and a half ago and recently played at the Harnett Music Festival.

Justin performed at the Vicious Fishes Brewery where he played “Believer” by Imagine Dragons. He was joined by his music teacher, Micheal Daughtry, and his family, many friends and supporters. Justin is also a multiple year winner and participant of Chalkfest. Harnett Music Festival and Chalkfest are presented by the Harnett County Arts Council.

Justin is a state representative for the BeStrong global organization, “a national nonprofit whose mission is to save and change the lives of students by focusing on developing resilience.” The group focuses on bullying and suicide prevention and awareness.

Justin is also a two-year SPARK (the largest genetic study of autism) research participant and its partner UNC Hospital and he is a former Duke Talent Identification Program participant. He enjoys reading and participates in the Erwin Public Library monthly Book Club. He also enjoys playing video games, writing, drawing and composing music.

Justin loves God, animals, cars, computers and technology. He hopes to go to MIT one day and become an engineer.

There are more than 15,500 enrollments in the Center for Talented Youth’s Online Programs courses each year. In addition, CTY’s in-person summer programs for bright students are offered at about 20 sites in the United States and Hong Kong.

A global leader in gifted education since 1979, CTY is focused on recognizing academic talent in exceptional K-12 students and supporting their growth with courses, services and resources specifically designed to meet their needs. CTY draws students from 50 states and 84 countries worldwide. The center provides more than $4 million in financial aid to students.

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