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News from 2020-2021

Posted: May 13, 2021

National Merit Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to the five APS students who earned this distinguished honor.

Albuquerque Public Schools is proud to announce its National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winners:

  • Casey T. Pei, La Cueva High School 
  • Agustin J. Leon-Saenz, Albuquerque High School 
  • Delaney F. Pendleton, Eldorado High School
  •  Ryan D. Sanchez, La Cueva High School
  • Luke Xue, La Cueva High School 

These students are among 2,500 chosen from a talent pool of more than 16,000 finalists in the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program.

National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winners are the finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The number of winners named in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s graduating high school seniors. Fourteen New Mexico students were named National Merit $2,500 scholarship winners this year. 

These scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors, who appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by both the finalists and their high schools: the academic record, including difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from two standardized tests; contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the finalist; and a recommendation written by a high school official.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation finances most of these single-payment National Merit $2,500 Scholarships. Corporations and company foundations that sponsor awards through NMSC also help underwrite these scholarships with grants they provide in lieu of paying administrative fees.

Scholars may use their awards at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university.

This year’s National Merit Scholarship Program began in October 2019 when over 1.5 million juniors in more than 21,000 high schools took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than one percent of the nation’s high school seniors, were named semifinalists on a state-representational basis. Only these 17,000 semifinalists had an opportunity to continue in the competition.

From the semifinalist's group, some 16,000 students met the very high academic standards and other requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition. By the conclusion of the 2021 program, about 7,500 finalists will have earned the “Merit Scholar” title and received a total of over $30 million in college scholarships.

NMSC, a not-for-profit corporation that operates without government assistance, was founded in 1955 specifically to conduct the National Merit Scholarship Program. The majority of scholarships offered each year are underwritten by approximately 410 independent corporate and college sponsors that share NMSC’s goals of honoring scholastically talented youth and encouraging academic excellence at all levels of education.

Tags: Core Schools