Semifinalists in 2015 National Merit Scholarship Program Named

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EVANSTON, Ill. — Officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation on Wednesday announced the names of approximately 16,000 semifinalists in the 60th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth about $33 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition.

About 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 440 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.

The National Merit Scholarship Program honors individual students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The program does not measure the quality or effectiveness of education within a school, system, or state. For more information about the competition, visit www.nationalmerit.org.

About 1.4 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2015 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2013 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest scoring entrants in each state. The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

To become a finalist, the semifinalist and his or her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application in which they provide information about the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.

Semifinalists include the following, listed by the cities where their schools are located.

• Arcadia — Jonathan K. Matsumoto, Arcadia High School

• Culver City — Cameron T. Kato, Culver City High School

• Fremont — Kelsey S. Ichikawa, Irvington High School

• Fullerton — Kile J. Young, Troy High School

• Glendale — Gabrielle S. Yanai, Glendale High School

• Lake Forest — Melissa L. Sugimoto, El Toro High School

• Newbury Park — Jackson D. Nagamoto, Newbury Park High School

• North Hollywood — Sean Koyama, North Hollywood High School

• Oakland — Mariko J. Kamiya, College Preparatory School

• Ojai — David M. Amano, The Thacher School

• Pacific Palisades — Ann Tanaka, Palisades Charter High School

• Palo Alto — Cameron M. Hill, Castilleja School

• Rolling Hills Estates — Lucas H. Kim-Narita, Palos Verdes Peninsula High School

• Sacramento — Kenji T. Bennett and Jasper K. Miura, C.K. McClatchy High School

• San Diego — Kiyotaka Hachisuka, Rancho Bernardo High School; Alyssa L. Yoshitake, Scripps Ranch High School; Natalie A. Kadonaga, Torrey Pines High School

• San Jose — Daisuke Kurita, Lynbrook High School; Dylan D. Iwanaga, Archbishop Mitty High School; Sara A. Hoshino, Notre Dame High School

• Visalia — Brendan M. Watamura, Redwood High School

• Yuba City — Grace Fujii, Yuba City High School

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