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Bourne named National Merit Scholarship semifinalist

By Staff | Sep 23, 2016

Sara Bourne, RHS Senior, was named one of approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the 62nd annual National Merit Scholarship Program sponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).

“These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth about $33 million that will be offered next spring,” according to a news release from the NMSC.

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. About 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, according to the statement.

NMSC is a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance and 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 420 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,” according to the statement released by NMSC.

About 1.6 million juniors entered the program by taking the 2015 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as a screening of program entrants.

Bourne, however, took the SAT in order to qualify for the program because she was a little late to the process. As the first student at RHS to qualify, there wasn’t much information available to Bourne on the program.

“I hope, maybe in future years, now that I have qualified, that [the school] will offer it here or at least talk about the program more,” Bourne said.

To become a Finalist, the Semifinalist and his or her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the Semifinalists 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 scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2017. 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 230 corporations and business organizations for Finalists who meet their specified criteria. In addition, about 190 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,000 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.

“I think it’s cool,” Bourne said. “I’m the first person from the school, so it’s definitely an accomplishment. From here, we just see if anything comes of it.”

(All information regarded the National Merit Scholarship Program is from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation and can be found at nationalmerit.org.)

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