Four local students receive $2,500 Merit Scholarships

Published 1:47 pm Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Four local students are among the most recent announced recipients of National Merit Scholarships.

Margaret Baldwin and Jackson B. Gutshall of Spain Park High School, Kathryn G. Holt of Oak Mountain High School and Davis J. Tyler-Dudley of Indian Springs School are winners of National Merit $2,500 Scholarships.

The announcement of winners by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation is the second in the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program.

On April 19, more than 1,000 recipients of corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards were named, and on June 7 and July 17, about 4,000 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship winners will be announced.

By the conclusion of the competition, about 7,500 academic champions will have won National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million.

The $2,500 Merit Scholar designees were chosen from a talent pool of more than 15,000 outstanding finalists.

Winners are the finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

The number of winners named in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s graduating high school seniors.

These scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors, who 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 written by the finalist; and a recommendation written by a high school official.

NMSC finances most of these single-payment National Merit $2,500 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.

Scholars may use their awards at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university.

Baldwin, whose scholarship was underwritten by State Farm Companies Foundation, plans to study medicine; while Gutshall plans to study finance, Holt plans to study athletic training and Tyler-Dudley plans to study international relations.

This year’s National Merit Scholarship Program began in October 2015 when more than 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than 1 percent of the nation’s high school seniors, were named semifinalists on a state-representational basis.

Only these 16,000 semifinalists had an opportunity to continue in the competition.

From the semifinalist group, some 15,000 students met the high academic standards and other requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition.

NMSC, a not-for-profit corporation that operates without government assistance, was founded in 1955 specifically to conduct the National Merit Scholarship Program.

The majority of scholarships offered each year are underwritten by approximately 420 independent corporate and college sponsors that share NMSC’s goals of honoring scholastically talented youth and encouraging academic excellence at all levels of education.

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