30 seniors named National Merit semifinalists

September 27, 2022

HOUSTON — Thirty high school seniors in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston were named semifinalists in the 2023 National Merit Scholarship program (NMSC), a 30% increase over last year’s total of 23 and a 150% increase from just two years ago in 2020, when just 12 Houston-area semifinalists were recognized.

As semifinalists, these high school seniors from six area Catholic high schools, are in the running for 7,250 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $28 million offered next spring. These students were recognized based on scores on last year’s preliminary SAT college-entrance and National Merit scholarship qualifying tests.

The students recognized were Mark Parmenter of St. John XXIII College Preparatory; Blythe Bath, Rebecca Bi, Vivian Lorch, Lorena Maher, Monica Orozco, Emily Parmenter, Christine Parrish, Sophie Sheara, Anika Shethia of St. Agnes Academy in Houston; Stephanie Birkelbach of St. Pius X High School in Houston; Austin Burke and Damian Wilson of St. Thomas High School; Jack Brodie, Marco Cerritos, Rushil Chetty, Alexander Citardi, John Greeley, Aidan Guthrie, Jake Jongebloed, Jeffrey Kollar, Jackson Mitchell, Daniel Ragazzo, Imran Siddiqui, Nicolas Valladolid, James Walker, Albertus Wiesedeppe, Zachariah Wrobel, Owen Zeng and Harvey Zhu of Strake Jesuit College Preparatory; and Michael Sibille of Frassati Catholic High School in Spring.

Steep competition
The nationwide pool of semifinalists includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. Less than 1% of high school students achieve this honor.

The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.
These students continue in the scholarship competition and are set to be among the 2,500 high school students who will earn $2,500 National Merit Scholarships.

About 95% of the semifinalists are expected to be named finalists, and approximately half of all finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

In order for the semifinalists to become National Merit Finalists, students must submit a detailed scholarship application with information about their academic record, their involvement in school and community activities, their leadership abilities and other honors and awards received.

Semifinalists must have outstanding academic records throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT or ACT (American College Test) scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test. The National Merit Scholarship Program estimates that 15,000 students will advance to the finalist level.

National Merit Scholars will be named on the basis of their skills, accomplishments and potential for success in college.

The program expects to award nearly $28 million to students around the country next spring. Students also compete for two other scholarships: 950 awards are sponsored by some 180 corporations and businesses and the other are 3,800 awards sponsored by roughly 160 colleges and universities in the U.S.

The mission of NMSC is to recognize and honor the academically talented students of the United States. NMSC accomplishes its mission by conducting nationwide academic scholarship programs. 

(Photo by Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash)