Local students named National Merit semifinalists

High school seniors to compete for lucrative scholarships


Seven Morgan Hill students and two Gilroy teens have been named as semifinalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship program.

These high school seniors are among 16,000 semifinalists nationwide who have an opportunity to compete for National Merit Scholarships collectively worth more than $31 million, according to a press release from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. The scholarships will be awarded next spring.

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, the semifinalists must fulfill a number of 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 title of Merit Scholar.

South County’s semifinalists in the 2020 competition are:

  • Live Oak High School senior Emma M. Squires;
  • Oakwood School seniors Nolan K. Kornelsen, Jashan S. Pabla, Abhas Rajhans and James J. Xu;
  • Ann Sobrato High School seniors Myan Lam and Dean H. Tran;
  • Dr. T. J. Owens Gilroy Early College Academy seniors Reno E. Brown and Astin T. LeQuang.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation is a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance. It was established in 1955 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 the goals of honoring the nation’s

scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.

More than 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, which served as an initial screen of program entrants, reads the press release. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

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.


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