Recently, Leesville has been informed that they have several National Merit Scholarship finalists: Kelly Pring, Ben Pope, Kurtis Konrad, Sarah Arney and Juan Esteller.
The National Merit Scholarship Program is a nationwide scholarship program in which students compete for recognition and financial college scholarships. It is a scholarship based off of the PSAT, taken during junior year at Leesville. The students can elect to take this test to compete to be a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist.
“The requisite to the semifinalist score varies from state to state, and if you score above that threshold then you advance to the semifinalist stage for which you pretty much just have to make an application,” said Juan Esteller, finalist and senior.
The majority of semifinalists do attempt to apply for the finalist stage, since it greatly improves one’s change of college scholarships and opportunities available. Being a finalist is also highly likely if one is already a semifinalist and is a well-rounded student.
“Most semifinalists do eventually advance to the finalist stage — you pretty much just have to show them that you’re a pretty dedicated student and once you do so you just enter the finalist stage which gives you the opportunity to get more scholarships,” said Esteller.
The National Merit Scholarship rewards many students that reach finalist status for their hard work and intelligence. It, as the name suggests, is based entirely on merit, so race, financial situation and gender are not a factor. It is purely based on the excellence of the student.
“I could potentially apply for a $2500 reward which they offer to all finalists. If I got the award, then I would perhaps not have to work while I’m actually attending college, which would be really nice,” said Esteller.
For others, like Kelly Pring, their situation does not line up with the benefits that the program offers, but it is an honor none the less.
“Only certain colleges offer scholarships based on National Merit, and unfortunately UNC doesn’t, which is where I’m going. Other schools I [was] looking at do offer scholarships for that and also some businesses offer scholarships if your parents work at those businesses. Also, my parents dont work at those businesses, so it doesn’t really help me much; but I’ve gotten letters from other schools since Ive been named a finalist that have been offering their scholarships for National Merit finalist,” said Pring.
Overall, this is an incredible honor for the five Leesville students involved. This scholarship will provide many opportunities for them in the near future.