Three CHS Seniors Selected Into National Merit Scholarship Program


Hana Hashioka

Senior Chaerim Kang, one of 16,000 selected semi-finalists for the 2019-20 school year.

Amongst the 1.6 million students who entered the National Merit Scholarship Program (NMSC), three Claremont High School students have qualified as semi-finalists. Chaerim Kang, Liam Geary, and William Xue are the semi-finalists who await the results of whether or not they will become finalists. The corporation is an independent, non-profit college board that identifies and awards those who are talented academically. Since its founding, NMSC has recognized over 3.3 million students and provided over 432,000 scholarships worth over $1.7 billion.

The nationwide program awards finalists who meet strict criteria. Students are evaluated according to their abilities, skills, extracurricular achievements, potential for success in college, and more. The NSMC has goals of promoting education and respect for learning by recognizing students with a good reputation in learning and leadership.

To participate in the program, students must take the PSAT along with the NMSC qualifying test no later than junior year. The tests must be taken in advance since they are necessary for entry to the competition for scholarships to be awarded in the following year. From there on, 50,000 participants receive Letters of Commendation identifying their academic potentials, however only one third become semi-finalists. The 16,000 semi-finalists are the highest scoring individuals of their state as each state is equally represented through the same amount of semi-finalists.

Senior Liam Geary, one of the three CHS semi-finalists, is an IB diploma candidate and member of cross-country and theater. He was unaware he had qualified for the scholarship until he was informed by his counselor.

“I got called into the office, into Dr. Mitchell’s, and I assumed it was expulsion effective immediately but it was me and Chaerim,” Geary said. “That’s when I knew it was going to be okay because Chaerim was in there and then he told us that we were National Merit Scholar semi-finalists.”

Finalists are then determined by meeting high academic standards and all of the other requirements needed from the semi-finalist round. Although 15,000 participants are awarded the Certificate of Merit, only half of them are selected to receive scholarship awards. These awards range from a $2,500 scholarship to college and corporation sponsorships. The tedious process of elimination results with only the elite remaining.

Earning the scholarship can be a meaningful experience to winners. Semi-finalist William Xue is a full IB student, and provided what the scholarship means to him and his future aspirations.

“I would put the money towards my college,” Xue said. “I want to go to a UC or Canadian school and major in economics.”

Meeting the requirements for this program requires a considerable amount of time dedication. Now that they’re work has paid off, all the semi-finalists have left is to await the final results. The semi-finalists will get notified of their results six months after submitting their work.

The third semi-finalist, Chaerim Kang is a four-year speech and debate member who is in full IB and expressed her reaction to coming this far.

“I think that it’s pretty cool that I get to have the chance to win the scholarship because it’s always a nice support and I’m surprised and grateful to have this opportunity,” Kang said. “I’ll just wait and see what happens next and if I get it, great, and if not, that’s all good too.”

The students have shown that through their achievement of becoming semi-finalists that hard work and dedication pays off.