Update: FOUR Darien Students Named National Merit Scholars

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Two Darien High School Seniors and two Darien residents attending Regis High School in Manhattan have been named National Merit Scholars, each winning an award for $2,500 in college tuition.

Katie Tsui Presidential Scholar 5-10-16

Katie Tsui

One of the National Merit Scholars, Katie Tsui, was just named a Presidential Scholar. The others named are Chloe Zhou of Darien High School. At Regis, Andrew Aoyama and Charles Burke also are National Merit Scholars.

Tsui is interested in pursuing a career in neuroscience; Zhou, in mechanical engineering; Burke, in finance; Aoyama, in the foreign service.

Chloe Zhou National Merit Scholar 5-12-16

Chloe Zhou (from a Darien High School photo of National Merit Scholar finalists)

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation uses its own funds and those of corporate sponsors to finance the awards. Burke’s scholarship is underwritten by Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc.. and the National Merit MetLife Foundation financed Aoyama’s scholarship. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation financed the other two.

The 2,500 Merit Scholar designees were chosen from more than 15,000 finalists, including several from Darien.

Here’s an excerpt with most of an announcement from the National Merit Scholarship Corp. that describes how the awards are granted:

“[The] winners are the finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The number of winners named in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s graduating high school seniors.

These Scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors, who 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.

This year’s competition for National Merit Scholarships began in October 2014 when over 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.

national Merit Scholarship Program logo 5-12-16Last 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 2016 program, about 7,500 Finalists will have earned the “Merit Scholar” title and received a total of about $33 million in college scholarships.

NMSC, a not-for-profi t corporation 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 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.


Editor’s note: At 12:22 p.m., Friday, we added Andrew Aoyama’s name and information to the list. His scholarship had been announced weeks ago in a separate news release from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

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