Quintet of CHS students named National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists - Celebration, Florida

Five Celebration High School students have been named as semifinalists in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Earning the distinction were: Ethan T. Amaya, Joseph A. Djaja, Audrey K. Jones, Vivian M. Spencer and Salisa Sukitjavanich. Each of the students will now have a chance to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be offered in the spring.

The nationwide pool of Semifinalists represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors. High school students enter the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which serves as an initial screen of approximately 1.6 million entrants each year, and by meeting published program entry and participation requirements. All winners of Merit Scholarship® awards are chosen from the Finalist group based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.

Beginning in April and continuing to July, students will be selected to receive Merit Scholarship awards of three types: National Merit $2,500 Scholarships, Corporate-Sponsored Merit Scholarships awards, and College-Sponsored Merit Scholarship Awards.

National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) was established in 1955 — a time in which there was concern that the United States was lagging behind in the cold war scientific race, but the public was indifferent to rewarding intellectual accomplishment. In response, the National Merit Scholarship Program was founded to identify and honor scholastically talented American youth and to encourage them to develop their abilities to the fullest. Through this nationwide competition, National Merit Scholarships are awarded to program Finalists and Special Scholarships are awarded to other high performing participants who meet a corporate sponsor’s eligibility criteria.

In 1964, contemporaneously with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the National Achievement Scholarship Program was initiated specifically to identify academically promising Black American youth and encourage their pursuit of higher education. With the conclusion of the 2015 program, the National Achievement Scholarship Program transitioned to UNCF. Approximately 228,000 students have been recognized in the program and more than 34,000 were chosen to receive Achievement Scholarship awards.