This year, for the Class of 2013, Manual has a total of 39 National Merit Semifinalists, two National Achievement Award Winners, and one Hispanic Scholar. All three awards are determined by students’ scores on the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT) when they take the test their junior year.
To become National Merit Finalists, National Merit Semifinalists must complete further steps, including an essay and application, as well as submitting an SAT score that will be compared to the PSAT score to ensure the student’s abilities. The application is due October 1. National Achievement Award Winners and Hispanic Scholars have reached the final stage in their respective scholarship programs.
National Achievement Award winners and Hispanic Scholars must have clarified when they took the PSAT that they identified as Black Americans or Hispanic/Latino, respectively, and that they were willing to participate in the separate scholarship programs.
All three scholarship programs can benefit students, both with scholarship money and with recognition by colleges to which their scores and award statuses are sent.
For some students, the difference in award name made a difference in their experiences with receiving the award. “I’m not uncomfortable in the sense that I was singled out,” Ana Cervera (12), a Hispanic Scholar, said. “I mean, it is a great honor to represent people who, just like me, come from such a different background. But I have heard comments about how much easier it is to be a Hispanic Scholar or a National Achiever and that makes me so mad. The three of us who got the special award worked just as hard as those who received the regular award. We are only different really because we come from a different background.”
“Although I was flattered by the honor, I felt it wasn’t a good indicator of potential for academic success,” Vivek Raj (12) said. “One question wrong can be the difference between National Merit and not National Merit. And the test doesn’t account for silly mistakes—I missed two writing questions and lost nine points. Plus, the timing is stressful for some students, and if you’re sick that day, that’s the difference between receiving and not receiving the scholarship.”
Scholarship award recipients will attend a formal luncheon at UofL’s University Club on September 24.
National Achievement Award Winners:
National Merit Semifinalists: