On April 18, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) released the names of the first group of winners in the 57th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Three McKinney ISD seniors were among the approximately 1,000 distinguished high school seniors have won corporate-sponsored National
Merit Scholarship awards financed by about 200 corporations, company foundations, and other business organizations.

Zachary Stevens (McKinney Boyd High School), Benjamin Russell (McKinney Boyd High School) and Jennifer Zotz (McKinney High School) each received the National Merit Jerry R. Junkins Memorial Scholarship from Texas Instruments.

They were selected from students who advanced to the Finalist level in the National Merit Scholarship competition and met criteria of their scholarship sponsors.

Corporate sponsors provide National Merit Scholarships for Finalists who are children of their employees, who are residents of communities the company serves or who plan to pursue college majors or careers the sponsor wishes to encourage.

Most of these awards are renewable for up to four years of college undergraduate study and provide annual stipends that range from $500 to $10,000 per year. Some provide a single payment between $2,500 and $5,000. Recipients can use their awards at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university of their choice.

Funding for National Merit Scholarships is provided by corporate organizations that represent nearly all sectors of American industry. Sponsors from the business community have underwritten awards offered in all 57 competitions, expending or committing more than $700 million to support the intellectual development of the nation’s scholastically talented youth.

The 2012 National Merit Scholarship Competition

About 1.5 million juniors in some 22,000 high schools entered the 2012 National Merit Scholarship competition when they took the 2010 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

In September 2011, some 16,000 Semifinalists were designated on a state representational basis in numbers proportional to each state’s percentage of the national total of graduating high school seniors. Semifinalists were the highest-scoring program entrants in each state and represented less than 1 percent of the nation’s seniors.

To be considered for a National Merit Scholarship, Semifinalists had to fulfill requirements to advance to Finalist standing. Each Semifinalist was asked to complete a detailed scholarship application, which included writing an essay and providing information about extracurricular activities, awards, and leadership positions. Semifinalists also had to have an outstanding academic record, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, and earn SAT scores that confirmed their qualifying test performance. From the Semifinalist group, some 15,000 met Finalist requirements.

By the conclusion of the 2012 competition, about 8,300 Finalists will have been selected to receive National Merit Scholarships totaling over $35 million. Winners are the Finalist candidates judged to have the strongest combination of academic skills and achievements, extracurricular accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. The majority of National Merit Scholarships offered each year are underwritten by some 440 independent corporate and college sponsors that support NMSC’s efforts to honor the nation’s scholastically talented youth and encourage academic excellence at all levels of education.

About the author: Shane Mauldin is MISD Communications Specialist. Major portions of this information was provided by National Merit Scholarship Corporation.