Over 170 Cook County area students named National Merit semifinalists

Posted9/15/2020 4:28 PM

National Merit Scholarship Corp. officials recently announced the names of approximately 16,000 semifinalists in the 66th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 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 more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

This nonprofit organization, which operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 400 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC's goals of honoring the nation's scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.

Over 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2019 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), 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.

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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, and write an essay.

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.

Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2021. Every finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state-representational basis. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 220 corporations and business organizations for finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor's employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. In addition, about 180 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,100 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.

Northwest suburban semifinalists 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program are:

Arlington Heights

• John Hersey High School: Susan M. Byrom, Samantha W. Corley, Maxtan E. Huynh, Patrick R. Klem, Sophianne S. Loh, Alexander R. Nowak, and Nathan N. Reed


• St. Viator High School: Olivia G. Gauthier and Kathleen M. Hannon


• Barrington Community High School: Martha L. Abrahamson, Jacob A. Devadas, Emma P. Glenn, George W. Gong, Sarah Huang, Ashwin Kasargode, Om A. Kolhe, Matthew W. Lee, Andrew P. Moritz, Aryan J. Nambiar, Saharsh Narayanam, Joseph A. Nepomuceno, Austin C. Nye, Sofia M. Rodriguez, Liam J. Starnes, Roseanne O. Strategos, Keegan M. Teal, Bryce W. Vist, and Isabella C. White

Buffalo Grove

• Buffalo Grove High School: Jillian E. Dombroski and Sydney C. Paunan


• Deerfield High School: Zachary A. Ambrose, Emily B. Carlin, Jackson M. Delariman, Ezra N. Horton, Hayden M. Katz, Aidan M. Morrison, Andrew J. Osborn, Peter D. Reynolds, and Rebecca H. Shamberg

• Rochelle Zell Jewish High School: Joseph F. Eisenberg

Des Plaines

• Maine West High School: Ann M. Kalena


• Homeschool: Matthew S. Awdisho

Elk Grove Village

• Elk Grove High School: Kaylyn S. Ahn and Brayden M. Bobowski


• Beacon Academy: Camilla J. Mancini

• Evanston Township High School: Zachary C. Bahar, Benjamin S. Barbaro, Celia J. Chambers, Ian B. Dunbar, Alexander T. Johnson, Madeline G. Rodriguez, Ezra L. Steinberg, and Anna H. Taufen


• Glenbrook South High School: Grace E. Diehl, Katherine M. Durow, Elizabeth D. Finley, Hannah Jon, Garrett R. Kramme, Thomas W. Marquardt, Kelly B. Ryan, Maia K. Schwallie, and Noah W. Walch

Highland Park

• Highland Park High School: Olivia R. Annes, Kevin B. Beck, Irene E. Gehrig, Eli Y. Gidron, Robert S. Hochstadt, Caitlin J. Hong, James D. Lovell, Sarah G. Sarowitz, and Andrew E. Schaumberger

Hoffman Estates

• James B. Conant High School: Nicholas K. Chen, Martin G. Ferris, Jennifer R. Nelson, Sanjana Rajesh, and Matthew D. Schmitt

Mount Prospect

• Prospect High School: Madison E. Baysingar, Felix K. Garkisch, Mary Catherine Hanafee Laplante, Richard A. Lytle, and Claudia L. Madsen


• Notre Dame College Prep: Anthony Esposito


• Glenbrook North High School: Anna Alava, Peter P. Bazianos, Justin Cheon, Jack M. Diaz, Hannah C. Foster, Mark N. Glinberg, Daniel K. Kim, Hyun M. Kim, Abigail E. Knebelkamp, Henry L. Seiden, Ethan Y. Seo, Stephen D. Vasiljevic, Songyu Ye, and Angela M. Zhao


• Christian Heritage Academy: Megan J. Ng


• Fremd High School: Nathan A. Arango, Ysabelle F. Buenavista, Cara A. Chang, Stella J. Chung, Gabriel K. Classon, Joshua P. Corrigan, Manas P Gandhi, Natalia M. Gorecki, Allison Y. Kao, Anshul Kaushik, Sravya Konasani, Ethan Lin, Michelle Liu, Angela Ma, Mahima Malhotra, Gavin K. McCarthy, Gwendolyn R. Nicketta, David D. Phillips, Jessica W. Rao, Sufiya M. Shazia, Rachel Ye, Angelina J. Zheng, and William Zhong

• Palatine High School: MaryEtta M. Brigham

Park Ridge

• Maine East High School: Isabella Piekut and Nicole Piekut

• Maine South High School: Jessica M. Beck, Eric J. Biedke, Eamon J. Brady, Elizabeth M. Compton, Alexander C. Heinz, Joseph P. Kinnavy, Monica V. Milanowski, Mia P. Pomilia, Jonathan R. Spychalski, and Anna G. Wapner


• Lake Park High School: Aliana Y. Kaige, Gabrielle M. Mintrup, and Abhi S. Patel


• Schaumburg High School: Mia L. Vollkommer


• Wheeling High School: Miranda R. Lawson


• Loyola Academy: Charles Radtke


• New Trier Township High School: Vivian R. Adelman, Frederick Crone, Taylor M. Daniels, Silpol Dhiantravan, James Donnelly, Liam Donohoe, Christina R. Fahmy, Hailey M. Fitzsimmons, Alexander E. Gordon, Paul M. Graham, Jacob F. Hahn, Isabelle D. Hester, Alice Hu, Ryan C. Kennedy, Maximus J. Leibov, Eric Liu, Linnea R. Mason, Emilia T. McDougal, Russell W. McGrath, Isaac A. Moore, Julia A. Nelson, Ava N. Nemerovski, Finnian D. Patten, Ian X. Quan, Ryan D. Rittner, Louis J. Scheinfeld, Thomas S. Schindler, Mia Sedgwick, Brian Shen, Benjamin D. Steigmann, Eleanor A. Winkler, and Benjamin M. Worth

• North Shore Country Day School: Jacob Sherman