21 MSMS students named National Merit Finalists


Jtk13, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Unlike previous years, all of MSMS’s 21 National Merit Finalists Semifinalist advanced to Finalist.

Chloe Sharp, Staff Writer

Each year, about 12 students on average from MSMS are named National Merit finalists according to Heath Stevens, a school counselor at MSMS. This year, that number nearly doubled, as 21 MSMS students were awarded this title.

This year’s MSMS National Merit finalists are as follows: Ian Avant, Luke Bowles, Colby Brown, Max Dobbs, Jackson Flowers, James Harden, Bryce Harrison, David Jelinek, Manitejus Kotikalapudi, Nathan Lechner, Michael Lu, Zach Medlin, Anh Nguyen, Mason Pettit, William Shy, Jack Standard, Shelby Tisdale, Muneebah Umar, Nina Vo, Aaron Wan and Cameron Wright. 

The National Merit Scholarship Program is a not-for-profit academic scholarship program that selects only the students who receive the top 1% of PSAT/NMSQT test scores. Most students take the PSAT/NMSQT through their respective high schools during their junior year. Students who qualify as semi-finalists must submit an application that includes letters of recommendation from high school officials, their academic records for grades 9-12 and a personal essay to be considered as a finalist.

Shelby Tisdale is a first-generation college student who plans to attend Duke University in the fall.

“While I received a generous need-based financial aid package from Duke, I am still worried about going into debt, as Duke offers very few (very selective) merit-based scholarships,” Tisdale said. “I would love to receive a scholarship from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation to help me cover these costs.”

While becoming a National Merit finalist is a considerable honor, only 1 in 6 finalists receive scholarship money from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Fortunately, many universities offer their students scholarships for becoming National Merit finalists as well.

“I got a letter in the mail from Mississippi State that said that I would get $10,000 in scholarships for being a National Merit semi-finalist, and it will probably be more now that I’ve become a finalist,” Harden said. “That will probably influence my decision as to whether or not I go there or not.”

Winners of the $2,500 National Merit Scholarship offers will be notified in March. Those who did not receive scholarships will be notified in mid-May. However, there may be additional scholarships that become available after this date. Those recipients will be notified of their awards sometime during the summer.

“I feel incredibly honored to have received this award, and I am excited to think what opportunities I will get from it,” Avant said. “I’m still very unsure of my goals for the future, but becoming a finalist is a big step towards them or at least a big step towards figuring them out.”