Jessamine students named National Merit Scholar semifinalists

Published 10:05 am Wednesday, September 16, 2020

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Two Jessamine County students have been named semifinalists for the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program.

They are Samuel R. Hahn, a homeschool student, and Nathan A. Riffell, a student at West Jessamine High School.

The students are among approximately 16,000 semifinalists named earlier this week from across the U.S.

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These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million that will be offered next spring.

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition.

More than 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

To qualify, juniors took the 2019 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

To become a finalist, the semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment and honors and awards received.

A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official and write an essay.

National Merit Scholarship winners of 2021 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July.