Four local students win National Merit $2500 scholarships

EVANSTON, Ill. — Today National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC)
announced the names of 2,500 distinguished high school seniors who have won National Merit $2500 Scholarships, four of whom live in Greater Lafayette. The Merit Scholar designees were chosen from a talent pool of approximately 15,000 outstanding Finalists in the 2009 National Merit Scholarship Program.

The four local winners are:

  • Jonathon D. Foster of Lafayette (Harrison High School)
  • Philip K. Thomas of West Lafayette (Harrison High School)
  • Karen Shen of West Lafayette (West Lafayette High School)
  • Xixiang Xu of West Lafayette (West Lafayette High School)

National Merit $2500 Scholarship winners are the Finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies. They were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors. These Scholars may use their awards at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university.

NMSC is financing most of these single-payment National Merit $2500 Scholarships. Corporations and company foundations that sponsor awards through NMSC also help underwrite these scholarships with grants they provide in lieu of paying administrative fees.

All Finalists competed for these awards. To select scholarship winners, a committee of educators appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by both the Finalists and their high schools: the academic record, including difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from two standardized tests; contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay describing interests and goals; and the recommendation written by a high school official. The number of winners named in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s high school graduating seniors.

This year’s competition for National Merit Scholarships began in October 2007 when more than 1.5 million juniors in over 22,000 high schools took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less
than one percent of the state’s seniors, were named Semifinalists on a state representational basis. Only the 16,000 Semifinalists had an opportunity to continue in the competition.

Approximately 15,000 Semifinalists met the very high academic standards and other requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. By the conclusion of the 2009 program, about 8,200 Finalists will earn the “Merit Scholar” title and receive a total of nearly $36 million in college scholarships.

NMSC, a not-for-profit corporation that operates without government assistance, was founded in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. The majority of scholarships offered each year are underwritten by approximately 500 independent corporate and college sponsors that share NMSC’s goals of honoring scholastically talented youth and enhancing their educational opportunities.

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