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FORT BEND ISD (Covering Fort Bend News) – Fifty Fort Bend ISD high school seniors have been named Semifinalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program. They are among approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. These academically talented students have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. Over 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 Merit Scholar title.  

FBISD’s 2020 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists include:

Austin High School – Mohammad Aga, Dawn Ho, Aliza Li, Nishant Shah, Urhum Syed; Clements High School – Ryan Anselm, Siddhant Arora, Santiago Cantu, Lillian Do, Tatum La, Julie Mandimutsira, Samar Morrow, Siddharth Muppalla, Nitya Nakirekanti, Bryan Pan, Nithin Parsan, Kirthana Pisipati, Arnav M.Sethi, Randy Tan, Allen Ting, Vivian Tung, Helen Wang, Michelle Wang, Josephine Yau, Gregory Young; Dulles High School – Sofia Chang, Katherine Cheng, Spoorthi Cherivirala, Ethan Chow, Rannon Huo, Surya Karkada, Kenneth Lee, Michelle Li, Shaan Parekh, Taylor Shui, Aniruddh Sriram, Favian Sun, Kanika Talwar, Tam Truong, Ethan Zahid, Ruixuan Zhang, Allen Zheng; Elkins High School – Jacob Louis, Kaitlyn Nguyen, Gloria Zadrafie; Hightower High School – Isabella Gandara; Kempner High School – Emily Nguyen; and Travis High School – Benjamin Broekhuis, Anna Brooks, Rajit Gulhati.

Steps in the 2020 Competition

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. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of Semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

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.

From the approximately 16,000 Semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level, and in February they will be notified of this designation. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of Finalists. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference. 

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