36 students qualify as semifinalists for prestigious National Merit Scholarship


Twenty-eight semifinalists met during lunch on September 13 to discuss the results. (M. Chinn)

Staff Writer
UPDATED AS OF 9/25/17: Michael Wu (Sr.) has qualified as a semifinalist for the National Merit Scholarship Program, increasing the grand total of UHS semifinalists to 36. 
UPDATED AS OF 9/20/2017: Shivakrishna Vasireddy (Sr.) has qualified as a semifinalist for the National Merit Scholarship Program, bringing the grand total of semifinalists from UHS up to 35.

36 students from University High School (UHS) qualified as semifinalists for the National Merit scholarship this school year, the same number who qualified in the 2016 to 2017 school year.

Out of the 84 Irvine students who were selected as semifinalists this year, UHS had the highest number of semifinalists. Northwood High School had 26 students, Woodbridge High School had 16 students and Irvine High School had six students qualify.
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There has been fluctuations in the number of semifinalists in IUSD schools for the past four years. This year, however, UHS had the same number of students qualify from last year. (Sabrina Huang)

The National Merit Scholarship is based on students’ Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®) scores taken during their junior year, in addition to their Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores. According to the National Merit Scholarship website, out of the 1.6 million entrants each school year, 50,000 qualify for a scholarship.
Out of the 50,000 students throughout the nation who are selected, only 16,000 are chosen as semifinalists. This year, 0.5% of those 16,000 students were from the Irvine Unified School District (IUSD).
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Of the 16,000 semifinalists, 15,000 will be notified in February of 2018 whether they will have qualified as finalists. Of those 15,000 who qualify as finalists, 7,500 students will receive a $2,500 scholarship from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, based on a variety of criteria including a written essay, letters of recommendation, academic records, and their PSAT/NMQST and SAT test scores.
In addition, 1,200 of the selected 50,000 participants, regardless of whether they are semifinalists or not, will be awarded scholarships by different corporations in accordance with the sponsor’s requirements.
All students are eligible to participate in the National Merit Scholarship Program. Participants are required to have taken the PSAT/NMSQT no later than their junior year in high school. According to the National Merit website, students must also be US citizens or legal permanent residents.
UHS students are looking forward to the opportunity to potentially receive a scholarship from the National Merit Program.
“I’m super excited for the upcoming National Merit Finalist round because if chosen as a Finalist, I will have the opportunity to become one of the recipients of the $2,500 scholarship or the other college and corporate-sponsored National Merit scholarships,” Isabelle Chow (Sr.) said.
“I’m very grateful to be given this opportunity and to be among a group of really smart kids,” Dillon Cranston (Sr.) said. “Also I really want that money. Like a lot.”
The semifinalists for this year are Jiwon Ahn (Sr.), Peter Bota (Sr.), Alison Chang (Sr.), Phil Chen (Sr.), Justin Cheng (Sr.), Baek Choi (Sr.), Minu Choi (Sr.), Chow, Cranston, Hartejas Dhindsa (Sr.), Eirene Ding (Sr.), Yuchen Fan (Sr.), Anita Garg (Sr.), Laurel Giblin (Sr.), Shiyuan Guo (Sr.), Craig Hilby (Sr.), Linghao Kong (Sr.), Patryk Kozlowski (Sr.), Juwon Lee (Sr.), Albert Li (Sr.), Lucy Liu (Sr.), Asmita Majumder (Sr.), Emily McPhie (Sr.), Audrey Mitchell (Sr.), Anushi Patel (Sr.), Ishana Patel (Sr.), Neal Sharma (Sr.), Yong Shin (Sr.), Dylan Sun (Sr.), Kexin Sun (Sr.), Shivakrishna Vasireddy (Sr.), Jessica Wong (Sr.), Michael Wu (Sr.), Elaine Zhang (Sr.), Ashley Zhao (Sr.) and Yun Zhao (Sr.).