39 Alachua County Students Make Finals of National Merit Scholarship

By Sarah Sepe

It’s a proud time to be a citizen of Alachua County. The National Merit Scholarship program has recognized 39 Alachua County Public School students as finalists in the prestigious program.

The number of finalists is the second highest in Alachua County history, topped only by the 40 students recognized in 2009.

Recognition by the National Merit Scholarship program is synonymous with having a successful education program at the school. This scholarship program is only one of many merit scholarships by which students can win in the college application process, according to Spark Admissions. The benefit of it is that it enables student with high scholastic abilities to attend top-tier universities at a significantly lower cost. 

To become a finalist, there are many standards that must be achieved; one of them is earning semifinalist status. To qualify as a semifinalist, students must take the Preliminary SAT/National Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) and earn among the nation’s highest scores – this is taken by more than 1.5 million students per year and measures students’ critical reading, math problem solving and writing abilities.

Of those 1.5 million students, only about 16,000 are named semifinalists each year.

After officially becoming a semifinalist, one must be among the top scorers of the SAT to become a finalist. Also, students must submit applications highlighting their academic achievements, awards and honors, leadership activity within their school and community, and an essay.

National Merit finalists are eligible for thousands of dollars in scholarship awards provided by businesses, colleges and universities, and other organizations. This year, 19 students at Buchholz High School, 10 at Gainesville High and 10 at Eastside High have been named as finalists.

Congratulations to the 2021-22 National Merit Scholarship finalists:

Buchholz High School – Anjana Balachander, Angela Chen, Eric Diao, Michael Fahn, Rena Feng, Guarav Gajavelli, Christopher Han, Kevin He, Jacob Islam, Edward Jeong, Erick Jiang, Devika Kumar, Timmy Li, Aidan Linebarger, Angela Lou, John Sin, Jeffrey Xue, Albert Yang and Xiya Zhou

Eastside High School – Hyungjun Choi, Avery Colon, Richard Jiang, Vedant Karalkar, Ronan Morris, Rachel Parks, Atharva Pathak, Ahmik Paul, Sukhman Sidhu and William Yang

Gainesville High School – Aidan Bloch, Grant Gravlee, Janani Kumaran, Nicholas Lloyd, Eleanor Parks-Church, Gayathry Prabhakaran, Robert Ryan, Katherine Sammy, Holly Snow and Rachel Young


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