Three Indiana County students have been named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists.
They are among approximately 16,000 academically talented high school seniors who have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,000 National Merit Scholarships worth about $35 million in the 59th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.
Local semifinalists are Isaac A. Mastalski and Nyla Z. Numan, of Indiana Area Senior High School; and Joseph H. Kukula, of Blairsville High School.
About 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title. 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 440 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.
About 1.5 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2012 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than 1 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 their high school 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 scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.
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.
Finalists will be named in February and the winners in late spring and early summer.