Lamar, Bellaire Seniors Win National Merit Corporate Scholarships
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation has announced the names of the first group of winners in the 2009 National Merit Scholarship Program and two Houston Independent School District students are on the list. Bellaire High School Senior William “Cole” Spencer won the Taylor Publishing Company Scholarship. Taylor is a leading producer of school yearbooks. The company was established in 1939 in Dallas and serves nearly 9,000 schools nationwide. Spencer plans a career in biomedical engineering. Blake A. Niccum, a senior at HISD’s Lamar High School, won a corporate scholarship from the Chevron Corporation. He plans a career in medicine.
The HISD students were among more than 1,000 high school seniors who will receive corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards financed by about 200 companies, foundations, and other business organizations. Scholars were selected from students who advanced to the Finalist level in the National Merit Scholarship competition.
Corporate sponsors provide National Merit Scholarships for Finalists who are children of their employees, residents of communities the company serves, or who plan to pursue college majors or careers the grantor wishes to encourage. Most of these awards are renewable for up to four years of college undergraduate study and provide annual stipends that range from $500 to $10,000 per year. Some provide a single payment between $2,500 and $5,000. Recipients can use their awards at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university of their choice.
Finalists were chosen from more than 1.5 million juniors in over 22,000 high schools who entered the 2009 National Merit Scholarship competition when they took the 2007 Preliminary
SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. In September 2008, some 16,000 Semifinalists were designated on a state representational basis, in numbers proportional to each state’s percentage of the nation’s high school graduating seniors. Semifinalists were the highest-scoring program entrants in each state and represented less than one percent of a state’s seniors.
To be considered for a National Merit Scholarship, semifinalists had to submit a detailed scholarship application, which included an essay describing activities, interests, and goals, semifinalists had to have an outstanding academic record; be endorsed and recommended by a school official; and earn SAT scores that confirmed their qualifying test performance.
Some 15,000 semifinalists met finalist requirements. By the conclusion of the 2009 competition, about 8,200 Finalists will be selected to receive National Merit Scholarships totaling nearly $36 million. Winners are the finalist candidates judged to have the strongest combination of academic skills and achievements, extracurricular accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies.