ESSEX, MD—Two Baltimore County Public Schools students were named among the second group of winners in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.
Victoria S. Jin of Dulaney High School and Mary E. Kumcheva of Eastern Technical High School are among the 2,500 distinguished high school seniors who have won $2,500 National Merit Scholarship awards financed by the National Merit Scholarship Corp. Jin plans to pursue a career in education, and Kumcheva foresees a career in chemical engineering.
National Merit $2,500 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. 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 the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®); contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the finalist; and a recommendation written by a high school official.
Corporations and company foundations that sponsor awards through NMSC also help to 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.
Wednesday’s release is the second announcement of winners in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program. On April 22, more than 1,000 recipients of corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards were named, and on June 3 and July 13, some 4,100 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship winners will be announced. By the conclusion of this year’s competition, about 7,600 academic champions will have won National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million.
More than 1.5 million juniors in approximately 21,000 high schools entered the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program when they took the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. In September 2019, some 16,000 semifinalists were designated on a state representational basis in numbers proportional to each state’s percentage of the national total of graduating high school seniors. Semifinalists were the highest-scoring program entrants in each state and represented less than 1 percent of the nation’s seniors.
To be considered for a National Merit Scholarship, semifinalists had to fulfill requirements to advance to finalist standing. Each semifinalist was asked to complete a detailed scholarship application, which included writing an essay and providing information about extracurricular activities, awards, and leadership positions. Semifinalists also had to have an outstanding academic record, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, and earn SAT® or ACT® scores that confirmed their qualifying test performance. From the semifinalist group, some 15,000 met finalist requirements. By the conclusion of this year’s competition, about 7,600 academic champions will have won National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million.