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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Arcadia Weekly / 11 Arcadia High students named National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists

11 Arcadia High students named National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists

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Arcadia High continues double-digit streak in program

Arcadia High School continues its 28-year streak of seeing a double-digit number of students represented in the renowned National Merit Scholarship Program. This year, 11 Arcadia High students are counted among less than 1% of high school seniors across the nation that have been named 2022 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists, who now have the opportunity to vie for one of nearly 7,500 scholarships that collectively total close to $30 million.

The 11 Arcadia High 2022 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists are:

  • Ruth Berkun,
  • Stella Koh,
  • Kailin Liu,
  • Andrea Lou,
  • Sanjith Menon,
  • Nelly Segimoto,
  • Ryan Sun,
  • Jose Tandoc,
  • Ethan Wong,
  • Sonia Zhang, and
  • Ashley Zhao. 

“I was honestly shocked when I found out,” shared Arcadia High senior Kailin “Kathy” Liu when asked how she felt after receiving the surprise announcement from her school counselors about this distinction. “It’s an honor to continue Arcadia’s tradition of academic excellence [, and] a big congratulations to all of my fellow qualifiers as well.”

In the last 28 years, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation has honored and recognized 660 Arcadia High students as National Merit Scholarship semifinalists. As articulated on the National Merit Scholarship Program’s website, the program seeks to “honor individual students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies.”

“We are incredibly happy to share in our students’ excitement for receiving this special recognition, and we applaud their tenacity in chasing this goal through a pandemic,” said Arcadia High Principal Angie Dillman. 

Applying to the National Merit Scholarship Program begins in a student’s junior year of high school. Arcadia High’s 11 semifinalists joined juniors from high schools across the nation in taking the 2020 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as the initial screening tool for program participants. Of the approximately 16,000 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists selected, close to 15,000 are anticipated to become finalists in the program. The 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program finalists will be announced in February 2022.

“Although the academic rigor and busyness of Arcadia High School can be stressful at times, it truly prepares students for future challenges,” explained Liu when reflecting on the factors that helped contribute to her success on the PSAT.

Arcadia High student Kathy Liu
Arcadia High National Merit Semifinalist Kailin Kathy Liu is also a CIF Championship-winning badminton player. Photo courtesy of AUSD

While Liu acknowledged that PSAT-specific studying is mostly an independent learning endeavor, “I want to give a shoutout to all the teachers who took on the challenge of online learning and made our education possible during the virtual school year.”   

To be considered for a finalist spot in the National Merit Scholarship Program, Liu and her fellow Arcadia High semifinalists will work closely with their school counselors to submit a detailed scholarship application, which will include information about their academic records, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and rewards received. 

Aside from becoming an Arcadia High National Merit Scholarship finalist, Liu hopes to make an impact on her world.

“I hope to study sociology and/or anthropology,” shared Liu. “As someone who has always loved the gray area between sciences and humanities, I hope to study these fields to better connect an increasingly globalized world.”  

Liu opined that might sound like “fancy jargon,” but that the pandemic and societal events from 2020 were catalysts for her desired trajectory. 

“It was really eye-opening to see issues plaguing the country and even the world trickle down and manifest in the Arcadia community,” explained Liu. “By studying social structures, psychology, history, and ethnographics, I hope to be able to innovate and work collaboratively towards solutions that are targeted rather than generalized and provide a platform for those who truly need to be heard.”

As for the advice she’d give to students preparing for the PSAT National Merit Scholarship Program qualifying test, Liu says, “Don’t stress too much about it! […] The PSAT is a great way to get some insight into your current abilities/study habits and maybe even surprise yourself a little.”

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