Selected from a pool of 50,000 eligible U.S. students, Desai, 16, was named a semifinalist in September 2011. Desai was then chosen from a semifinalist group totaling 1,600 students to become a National Merit finalist. He is one out of 8,300 honorees who will receive a $2,500 National Merit Scholarship to help cover college expenses.
Desai’s finalist status was based on his abilities, skills, and accomplishments, without regard to gender, race, ethnicity, or religious preference. He was evaluated on academic record, information related to GECA’s curricula and grading system, two sets of test scores, GECA’s official’s written recommendation, information about his activities and leadership and a personal essay.
The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955, according to the organization’s website.