Three WT Students Named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

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Thursday, officials of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC®:) announced three Winchester Thurston (WT) seniors as semifinalists in the 68th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

WT students Daniel Kochupura, Alexander Sayette, and Uma Simhan are among only 16,000 semifinalists selected from an applicant pool of over 1.5 million. They will continue in the competition for 7,250 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $28 million that will be offered next spring.

High school juniors entered the program last year by taking the 2021 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen for program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of Semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state's percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

To become a Finalist, the Semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application. They provide information about the Semifinalist's academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards. A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT9 or ACT9 scores that confirm the student's earlier performance on the qualifying test.

Daniel, Alexander, Uma, and fellow semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2023. Every Finalist will compete for a $2500 scholarship that will be awarded on a state-representational basis. About 950 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 180 corporations and business organizations for Finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor's employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. In addition, about 160 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 3,800 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.

National Merit Scholarship winners of 2023 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join nearly 368,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.

NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its funds and by approximately 340 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC's goals of honoring the nation's scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.

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Daniel is the president and co-captain of the Mock Trial team, co-editor-in-chief of our newspaper—the Voices of Winchester, president of the Investment Club, high councilperson of the Desi Student Union (DSU), and president of the Community Service Club. Outside of school, he likes to spend time with his family, read, and watch comedy. After graduation, he plans to pursue further education and participate in college mock trial.

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Alex is a Co-Editor-in-Chief of Plaid Literary Magazine. He is also involved with Student Council, Cross Country, Student Ambassadors, Sigma Academic Journal, and other clubs. Outside of school, Alex enjoys creative writing and playing saxophone and clarinet. After graduation, Alex plans to go to college next year and possibly study math or creative writing.

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Uma is fullback (Go #21!) on our girls’ soccer team. She’s a Student Ambassador, an editor for Plaid Literary Magazine, runs Film Club, co-leads Cooking Club, and is also involved in the Desi Student Union, Debate Club, and WT’s winter play and spring musical. Outside of school, she does the winter musical at the Jewish Community Center (JCC), takes voice lessons, reads, and spends time with her friends. After graduation, she plans to pursue neuroscience or another kind of brain science as a major.