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Three Local Seniors Named National Merit Scholarship Winners

May 08, 2024 08:21AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation on Wednesday announced this year’s National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winners - a list that included three local high school seniors. 

The winners, who represent the top-of-the-top among academic testing achievers - included:

Kina Desai - Mira Costa High School
Charles Hiatt - Mira Costa High School
Justin Huebner - Vistamar School

The $2,500 Merit Scholar winners were chosen from a talent pool of more than 15,000 National Merit Finalists from around the country in the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program. These scholarship winners were the finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

The scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high
school counselors, who considered students' academic record, including difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®); contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the finalist; and a recommendation written by a high school official.

This year’s National Merit Scholarship Program began back in October 2022 when high school juniors took the PSAT/NMSQT, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. In fall 2023, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than one percent of the nation’s high school seniors, were named semifinalists on a state-representational basis. Nine local students were named National Merit Semi-Finalists.

From the semifinalist group, more than 15,000 students met the high academic standards and other requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition.

Wednesday's announcement is the second announcement of winners in the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program. On April 24, about 770 recipients of corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards were named, and on June 5 and July 15, some 3,600 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship winners will be announced.

NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was founded in 1955 specifically to conduct the National Merit Scholarship Program. The majority of scholarships offered each year are underwritten by approximately 320 independent corporate and college sponsors that share NMSC’s goals of honoring scholastically talented youth and encouraging academic excellence at all levels of education.

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