national merit
National Merit Semifinalists from top to bottom: Jordyn Addesso, Tobiah Bower, Daria Leonova, Sarah Mohammed, Asher Perez, Ian Walsh, and Christine Yared.

By Ivy Lam

After qualifying by having some of the best PSAT scores in the US, seven students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School qualified as National Merit semifinalists this school year.

Considered the top one percent, they are Jordyn Addesso, Tobiah Bower, Daria Leonova, Sarah Mohammed, Asher Perez, Ian Walsh, and Christine Yared.

“When I was told that I achieved semifinalist status, I was surprised and excited,” said Mohammed. “I had just woken up, so it was a great way to start the day.”

In total, there were approximately 16,000 students nationwide labeled as a National Merit semifinalist. These individuals showcase hard work and diligence in their academic careers.

It isn’t easy. Sarah Mohammed said she prepared for the PSAT by taking practice tests and reviewing the Official College Board SAT book.

“After graduation, I plan to pursue pre-med in university,” said Mohammed. “This accomplishment will definitely help me stand out as a candidate when I apply to different schools.”

Although these individuals are semifinalists, they now have to fulfill several requirements to become a finalist in the competition. Some factors of this process include submitting information about one’s activities/leadership roles, and academic record, a personal essay, an SAT score, and a recommendation letter.

“One of my biggest motivations for becoming a semifinalist was because my sister Florence was one two years ago, and the administration kept mixing us up and thinking that I was the semifinalist instead of her. So now I’m excited to actually be a semifinalist, like my sister was,” Yared said.

Out of the initial 16,000 semifinalists, only 7,500 of them are awarded a $2,500 scholarship from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. In the next few months, MSD’s seven semifinalists will have to wait to see whether they will be one of them.

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Author Profile

Ivy Lam
Ivy Lam
Ivy Lam is a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. This school year, she is the National Honor Society President, Eagle Eye Newspaper Editor, and Senior Class Senator. Her interests include writing, research, and public policy, all of which she will pursue further in college.
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