National Merit Scholars Announced

News  /  by Stephanie Yoon '19 and Eden Fesseha '19  /  May 12, 2017

V Formers Alexandra Campbell ’17, Panos Vandris ’17, Yiannis Vandris ’17, and Michael Zhao ’17 have won National Merit Scholarship Awards. The National Merit Scholarship is awarded by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), whose mission is “to promote scholastic excellence and recognize students who exemplify it.”

To be eligible for the award, students must score above a certain benchmark, which varies by year and state, on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), taken by approximately 3.5 million students every year. Applicants then submit a list of their extracurriculars and an application essay.

In each state, the top 16,000 students qualify as semifinalists. Out of these semifinalists, 15,000 become finalists and roughly receive a scholarship.

Three types of scholarships are available: the $25,000 general merit scholarship awarded to 2,500 students, a corporate scholarship awarded to finalists whose parents are employed by a participating corporation, and school-specific scholarships awarded to finalists whose chosen college participates in the program. All four Lawrentians received general merit scholarships.

Panos Vandris said, “I think in general it’s just nice to receive this kind of recognition for your academic and extracurricular pursuits. [...] It’s cool to know that [the NMSC] has read your application, saw what extracurriculars you do, read what you wrote in your essay, they choose to acknowledge you in that way. And [on] a nationwide scale, to be in that group of people is pretty cool too.”

Discussing his actual application, Panos Vandris said that his extracurricular activities ranged from The Lawrence, Student Council, and “Lawrencium,” to groups like Periwig and Allegro.

Zhao said, “[The scholarship is] something nice [... and a way] to give back [for] everything that my parents have done for me—the money that it takes to put me through a school like Lawrenceville and fund my other pursuits.”

During his time at Lawrenceville, Zhao was the Editor-in-Chief of the 136th Board of The Lawrence, co-captain of the Boys Varsity Tennis Team, and former Honor Representative of the Woodhull House.

“I think Lawrenceville does a remarkable job of equipping us with fundamental skills [tested on the PSAT],” Zhao said.