Local winners of National Merit $2,500 Scholarships named

On Wednesday, May 8, National Merit Scholarship Corp. announced this year’s National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winners.

The 2,500 Merit Scholar designees were chosen from a talent pool of more than 15,000 outstanding Finalists in the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program.

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.

The National Merit Scholarship Corp. 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. Donations made to the President’s Fund also provide funding for National Merit $2,500 Scholarships.

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

2024 National Merit Scholarship Competition

This year’s National Merit Scholarship Program began in October 2022 when high school juniors took the 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 nation’s high school seniors, were named Semifinalists on a state-representational basis.

More than 16,000 Semifinalists had an opportunity to continue in the competition. From the Semifinalist group, over 15,000 students met the very high academic standards and other requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. By the conclusion of the 2024 program, more than 6,870 Finalists will have earned the “Merit Scholar” title and received a total of nearly $26 million in college scholarships.

National Merit Scholarship Corp., a not-for-profit organization 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 320 independent corporate and college sponsors that share its goals of honoring scholastically talented youth and encouraging academic excellence at all levels of education.

Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire: Shaurya Agrawal, Vernon Hills, academia; Pradyumn M. Bonu, Buffalo Grove, finance; Edward X. Han, Lake Forest, law; Jennifer J. Huang, Buffalo Grove, medicine; Ronit Lodd, Lake Forest, business; Jeffrey T. Lu, Vernon Hills, computer science; Medha Mamidipaka, Buffalo Grove, computer science; Helen R. Qian, Lincolnshire, biomedical, engineering; Vageesh B. Ramaswamy, Buffalo Grove, law; Richelle M. Shi, Long Grove, surgical; medicine; Ethan Zhang, Lake Forest, science/research; and Vivian R. Zhu, Vernon Hills, English literature.

Barrington High School: Neha Doppalapudi, Inverness, business; Tara B. Gutzmer, Barrington, business; Riya Perla, South Barrington, medicine; and Madeleine J. Yoon, South Barrington, business

Batavia High School: Aleksandar M. Simeunovic, Aurora, computer science

Buffalo Grove High School: Rohan Ganeshan, Arlington Heights, biochemistry

James B. Conant High School in Hoffman Estates: Siddharth Dayaneni, Schaumburg, computer science

Crystal Lake Central High School: Madeline J. Gray, Lakewood, finance

Deerfield High School: Liam M. Cooper, Deerfield, mechanical; engineering (robotics)

William Fremd High School in Palatine: Aditya Gupta, Rolling Meadows, computer science; Grace H. Lee, Schaumburg, public health; and Jack Xu, Palatine, finance

Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook: Stephanie Mei, Northbrook, applied mathematics; Madeleine H. Noll, Northbrook, biological; engineering; and David M. Stolyarov, Northbrook, biochemical; engineering

Grayslake Central High School: Mihir Tandon, Grayslake, computer engineering

Highland Park High School: Elizabeth S. Smith, Highland Park, neurology

Hinsdale Central High School: Natasha K. Bhatia, Clarendon Hills, computer science; Patrick E. Dugan, Clarendon Hills, political science; William Christopher Gaffney, Clarendon Hills, business; and Joy J. Shen, Hinsdale, environmental science

Illinois Math & Science Academy in Aurora: Sreevardhan Atyam, Bloomington, computer science; Ishan Buyyanapragada, Plainfield, computer science; Anirudh S. Chari, Schaumburg, computer science; Marguerite R. DiMarco, Elmhurst, psychiatry; Zuyu Liu, Palatine, chemical, engineering; Aldo Magana, Sugar Grove, medicine; Maitreyi Pandey, Palatine, medicine; JaeJun Park, Bloomington, public health; Aashima Singh Sisodia, Aurora, academia; and Pranet Swain, Aurora, public policy

Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest: Theresa Fu, Lake Zurich, engineering; and Tobjorn L. Nelson, Glencoe, computer science

Lake Forest High School: Connor S. Koefelda, Lake Bluff, computer programming

Libertyville High School: Cameron Huang, Libertyville, astrophysics

Marmion Academy in Aurora: James G. Kennedy, St. Charles, civil; engineering

Metea Valley High School in Aurora: Sri Lakshmi Battula, Aurora, biochemistry; Kevin Paul, Aurora, computer science; and Kaushik Vemulapalli, Aurora, computer engineering

Naperville Central High School: Eric Gu, Naperville, mechanical; engineering; and Harry Yu, Naperville, academia

Naperville North High School: Ashwin Balaraman, Naperville, computer science; Pramithi Kandalai, Naperville, medical research; Yikai Liu, Naperville, computer science; Krishna Pothapragada, Naperville, quantitative analysis; Matthew Ru, Naperville, computer science; and Bryce Shen, Naperville, banking

Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville: Mohammad Fazalul Haque, Naperville, computer science; and Shivam Purohit, Naperville, finance

New Trier Township High School in Winnetka: Alison K. Beanblossom, Winnetka, business; Maya Echambadi, Winnetka, finance; Ashley Geohas, Wilmette, chemical, engineering; Megan K. Lu, Wilmette, chemistry; Daniel C. Matten, Wilmette, academia; Caleb Sim, Northbrook, economics; Victoria I. Wenzke, Wilmette, business; and Andrew Y. Xia, Wilmette, computer science

Oswego East High School: Jensen C. Coonradt, Aurora, engineering; Amul S. Prakash, Aurora, computer science; Samarth B. Sreenivas, Aurora, computer science; and Manya Srivastava, Aurora, environmental science

Prairie Ridge High School in Crystal Lake: Sarah A. Lanza, Crystal Lake, medical research

Vernon Hills High School: Sarthak Agrawal, Vernon Hills, biomedical, engineering

Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora: Maya E. Sanny, Aurora, medicine

Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest: Gianna M. Keuer, Barrington, law

An Honorary Merit Scholarship was awarded to Naperville North student William Anderson, Lisle, law. This award signifies that the Scholar's educational plans or other awards preclude receipt of a monetary scholarship. The student's name is included in the public announcement in recognition of distinguished performance in the competition.

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