Four more local students awarded Merit Scholarships

Merit Scholarship winners

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation has announced four more local winners of scholarships financed by colleges and universities.  Johnson High’s Lauren Hierholzer and Mary Harris both received a National Merit Baylor University Scholarship.  Harris is interested in pursuing a career in medicine/biology.  Hierholzer is seeking a career in physical therapy. 


Mindy MacKay, a Reagan High School student interested in pursuing a career in medicine, earned a National Merit Rice University Scholarship.  Liam Shaughnessy, also of Reagan High, earned a National Merit Grinnell College Scholarship.


These local Merit Scholar designees and roughly 1,700 additional winners announced Monday join more than 2,900 other recipients awarded college-sponsored scholarships in late May. Officials of each sponsor college selected their winners from among finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program who will attend their institution. College-sponsored awards provide between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at the institution financing the scholarship.


This year 198 colleges and universities are sponsoring about 4,800 Merit Scholarship

awards. Sponsor colleges include 118 private and 80 public institutions located in 45 states and the District of Columbia.


This final group of winners brings the number of 2011 National Merit Scholars to

approximately 8,300. These distinguished high school graduates will receive scholarships

for undergraduate study worth a total of nearly $35 million. 


This year’s competition for National Merit Scholarships began when approximately 1.5

million juniors in some 22,000 high schools took the 2009 Preliminary SAT/National Merit

Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. In September 2009, some 16,000 semifinalists were named on a state representational basis, in numbers proportional to each state’s percentage of the national total of high school graduating seniors. Semifinalists were the highest-scoring program entrants in each state and represented less than one percent of a state’s seniors.


To become a finalist, each semifinalist had to submit a detailed scholarship application,

which included writing an essay and describing contributions and leadership activities in high school and the community, have an outstanding academic record, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, and earn SAT scores that confirm the qualifying test performance. From the semifinalist group, about 15,000 attained finalist standing, and more than half of the finalists were chosen to receive National Merit Scholarships.


Established in 1955 to conduct the National Merit Scholarship Program, NMSC is a

not-for-profit corporation that operates without government assistance. Over the past 56 years, more than 284,000 outstanding young men and women have won National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $1 billion. The majority of awards offered each year are underwritten by approximately 440 independent corporate and college sponsors that support NMSC’s efforts to recognize scholastically talented youth and encourage the pursuit of academic excellence.


Article courtesy of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.