27 La Jolla students named semi-finalists for National Merit Scholarships

The names of the 16,000 semi-finalists in the 60th annual National Merit Scholarship Program have been announced. 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 in spring 2015. The La Jolla scholars from The Bishop’s School, La Jolla Country Day School and La Jolla High School are:


Brian Akin

Alexandra C. Appel

Ian C. Banta

Hyatt Bao

Morgan J. Chen

Shanelle S. Chen

Christine S. Cho

Justin A. Geier

Carley S. Haft

Conor Hayes

Shivali M. Joshi

Alexandra B. Krstic

Jack C. Leo

Neil Lunsford

Justin Ruggiero

Alice T. Wang

Jennifer Wang

Gloriana V. Xia


Olivia H. Martin


Chloe Elliott

Thomas J. Garcia

Erica Liu

Steven C. Mann

Gabrielle M. Person

Enzo D. Serafino

Caris W. Wei

Juntai J. Zheng

The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. High school students enter the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) — a test which serves as an initial screen of approximately 1.5 million entrants each year—and by meeting published program entry/participation requirements.

Student Entry Requirements — To participate in the National Merit Scholarship Program, a student must:

  1. Take the PSAT/NMSQT in the specified year of the high school program and no later than the third year in grades 9 through 12, regardless of grade classification or educational pattern;
  2. Be enrolled as a high school student, progressing normally toward graduation or completion of high school, and planning to enroll full time in college no later than the fall following completion of high school; and
  3. Be a citizen of the United States; or be a U.S. lawful permanent resident (or have applied for permanent residence, the application for which has not been denied) and intend to become a U.S. citizen at the earliest opportunity allowed by law.

The student’s responses to items on the PSAT/NMSQT answer sheet that are specific to NMSC program entry determine whether the individual meets requirements to participate in the National Merit Scholarship Program.
Of the 1.5 million entrants, some 50,000 with the highest PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index scores (critical reading, mathematics and writing skills scores) qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program. In September, these high scorers are notified through their schools that they have qualified as either a Commended Student or Semifinalist.

All winners of Merit Scholarship awards (Merit Scholar designees) are chosen from the Finalist group, based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments. A variety of information is available for NMSC selectors to evaluate: the Finalist’s academic record, information about the school’s curricula and grading system, two sets of test scores, the high school official’s written recommendation, information about the student’s activities and leadership, and the Finalist’s own essay.

— More information about the National Merit Scholarship Program at