Miramonte Students Awarded National Merit Scholarships

Senior Jenny Li was awarded the National Merit Bayer Scholarship for her excellent performance on the PSAT.
Senior Jenny Li was awarded the National Merit Bayer Scholarship for her excellent performance on the PSAT.
Senior Julia Shen was awarded the National Merit Nelson F. Peterson Scholarship through corporate sponsor, Genentech.
Senior Julia Shen was awarded the National Merit Nelson F. Peterson Scholarship through corporate sponsor, Genentech.

In the October of junior year, most students get a taste of the infamous SAT when they take the shortened Practice Standardized Academic Test.  Out of 240 rather than 2400, the score you receive on the PSAT is an indicator for how you will perform on the SAT.  Most students take it to get an idea of how the SAT works and discover their weak points.  But the PSAT has one extra perk: the highest scores qualify for a prestigious national scholarship.

The winners of this year’s National Merit Scholarship were recently announced, and Miramonte is honored to be home to two of them.  Seniors Julia Shen and Jenny Li were both awarded scholarships based on their excellent performance on the PSAT in 2012.

The process for becoming a finalist is long and painstaking.  After taking the PSAT in October, the semifinalists, those who rank within the top 1% of their state, aren’t notified until the following September.  About 16,000 students out of the 1.5 million that take the test every year qualify.

Once a semi-finalist, the student must write an essay, submit their grades and SAT scores to show consistent performance, and receive a teacher letter of recommendation to move on to the finalist round.  Typically 15,000 students become finalists and receive Certificates of Merit in recognition.

Out of all the finalists, 8,000 students receive Merit Scholarship awards. All finalists are considered for the 2,500 available National Merit $2,500 scholarships.  About 1,000 students are awarded stipends through the 200 corporate sponsors.

Julia Shen, one of the Miramonte finalists, was awarded the National Merit Nelson F. Peterson scholarship, a $2000 annual stipend, through one of the National Merit corporate sponsors.  “My mom works for a science company, the Roche Group, which owns Genentech.  I applied for the scholarship through them.  Only people who work with Genentech are eligible for that specific scholarship,” said Shen.  Shen will Northwestern University and plans to study medicine.

Jenny Li, the other finalist, received the National Merit Bayer Scholarship through the company her mother works for.  “I applied to the scholarship online through Bayer, the pharmaceutical company my mom works for.  You must score higher than a certain cut off, which varies every year, in order to apply,” said Li.  “It didn’t feel that rewarding because it was just based on test scores, but I am very thankful.”  Li will attend MIT in the fall and plans to study biological engineering.