McKinney High School senior Roshni Janakiraman and McKinney Boyd High School senior Dillon Stull were among the National Merit $2500 Scholarship winners announced Wednesday by National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).

The 2,500 Merit Scholar designees were chosen from a talent pool of more than 15,000 outstanding Finalists in the 2012 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Presidential Scholar

Also Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Education announced that Stull had been named as one of the 141 prestigious Presidential Scholars from around the country.

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, appointed by President Obama, selects honored scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals, according to a press release.

Of the 3 million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 3,300 candidates qualified for the 2012 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT and ACT exams, and through nominations made by Chief State School Officers or the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts nationwide YoungArts™ competition, the news release said.

The 2012 Presidential Scholars are comprised of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and from U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large and 20 Presidential Scholars in the Arts.

National Merit Winners

National Merit $2500 Scholarship winners are the Finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

They were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors. These Scholars may use their awards at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university.

NMSC finances most of these single-payment National Merit $2500 Scholarships. Corporations and company foundations that sponsor awards through NMSC also help underwrite these scholarships with grants they provide in lieu of paying administrative fees.

All Finalists competed for these awards. To select scholarship winners, a committee of educators appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by both the Finalists and their high schools: the academic record, including difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from two standardized tests; contributions and leadership in school and
community activities; an essay written by the Finalist; and a recommendation written by a high school official. The number of winners named in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s graduating high school seniors.

Ten McKinney ISD seniors qualified as National Merit Finalists this year. Last month, McKinney High School senior Jennifer Zotz and McKinney Boyd High School seniors Benjamin Russell and Zachary Stevens were named corporate-sponsored National Merit Scholarship winners.

“We are so proud of all our National Merit Finalists,” said Marita Cleaver, McKinney ISD  Coordinator of Advanced Academics. “These students have achieved one of the highest honors given to upperclassmen. Only a small percentage of students across the country qualify for this award as it takes years of hard work to achieve this type of academic performance,” she said. “To be rewarded with the National Merit Scholarship is well deserved and we applaud our students for this additional achievement.”

2012 National Merit Scholarship Competition

This year’s competition for National Merit Scholarships began in October 2010 when approximately 1.5 million juniors in some 22,000 high schools took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. Last fall, 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. Only these 16,000 Semifinalists had an opportunity to continue in the competition.

From the Semifinalist group, 15,000 students met the very high academic standards and other requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. By the conclusion of the 2012 program, about 8,300 Finalists will have earned the “Merit Scholar” title and received a total of over $35 million in college scholarships.

NMSC, a not-for-profit corporation that operates without government assistance, was founded in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. The majority of scholarships offered each year are underwritten by approximately 440 independent corporate and college sponsors that share NMSC’s goals of honoring scholastically talented youth and encouraging academic excellence at all levels of education.


About the author: Shane Mauldin is an MISD communications specialist. Portions of this information provided by National Merit Scholarship Corporation.