Fourteen seniors from Los Alamos High School have been named semifinalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship program. They are, from left, Sean Dougherty, Trystan Osburn, Juan Romero, Eli Iramk-Bent, Cinlong Huang, Dimitri Lopez, Gopal Nadiga, Eleanor Henderson, Malea Joyce, Neha Sadasivan, Dara Armstrong and Talia Ben-Naim. Not pictured: Emily Holmes and Cameron Waters. Photo Courtesy LAPS
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) has announced the names of approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.
Fourteen semifinalists are seniors at Los Alamos High School including: Dara Armstrong, Talia Ben-Naim, Sean Dougherty, Eleanor Henderson, Emily Holmes, Cinlong Huang, Eli Iramk-Bent, Malea Joyce, Dimitri Lopez, Gopal Nadiga, Trystan Osburn, Juan Romero, Neha Sadasivan and Cameron Waters.
“Los Alamos High School is proud of our 2020 National Merit Semifinalists,” said Principal Carter Payne. “Not only is this an honor for the students, their families and the school, but it also opens the door to opportunities for additional recognition and scholarships.”
These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship® award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. More than 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and about half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title.
The National Merit Semifinalists and their parents were honored at a luncheon today hosted by the principal. Also in attendance were Supt. Dr. Kurt Steinhaus, Jill Gonzales, principal of Topper Freshman Academy, parents and other guests. The luncheon was catered by teacher Rebecca Jones and her ProStart students.
NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 400 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.
Steps in the 2020 Competition
Over 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of Semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.
To become a finalist, the semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the Semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® or ACT® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.
From the approximately 16,000 Semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalist level, and in February, they will be notified of this designation. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of finalists. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.
National Merit Scholarships
Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2020. Every finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit® $2500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state-representational basis. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 220 corporations and business organizations for finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. In addition, about 180 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,100 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.
National Merit Scholarship winners of 2020 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join more than 345,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.