11 National Merit Scholarship Winners for BASIS.ed – Among 120 National Merit Award Winners

In an honor that is uniquely acknowledged as both academically illustrious and financially appreciated, eleven students at BASIS.ed schools won National Merit Scholarship awards. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) — a non-profit based in Evanston, Illinois, which has the stated goals of “honoring scholastically talented youth and encouraging academic excellence at all levels of education” — announced the winners on Wednesday, May 11, 2016.

The eleven students are part of a whopping one hundred twenty students – 120! – who have been named National Merit Commended Scholars or better in 2016. Just as impressive, of those 120, sixty-seven (67) students are National Merit Semifinalists or better, and sixty-three (63) students are National Merit Finalists.

“Across the network, BASIS.ed students are ten times more likely to be National Merit Award Recipients – that’s Commended or better – than students across the United States,” explained Arwynn Gilroy, BASIS.ed’s Managing Director of Academic Data and Systems. “So 35% of BASIS.ed students, versus 3.3% of students nationwide, are Commended scholars or better. Truly fantastic.”

Gilroy continued, “Further, BASIS.ed students are twenty times more likely to be National Merit Semifinalists than other American students: 20% at BASIS.ed versus 1.1% in the U.S.”

“And finally, of course, students at BASIS.ed schools are eighteen times more likely to be a National Merit Finalist than U.S. high school students: 18% at BASIS.ed, and just 1% nationwide!”

BASIS.ed CEO Peter Bezanson was delighted about the latest announcement and the network’s 2016 numbers from the NMSC. “This is a wonderful honor for each of these students,” he said. “National Merit Scholars are the best of the best. All 120 of the Commended or better BASIS.ed students – and onward to Semifinalists, Finalists, and finally the eleven scholarship winners – exemplify the outstanding achievements of the students across our network.

“And it goes without saying that we’re proud of the entire Class of 2016. But these kids deserve special acknowledgment – as do each of their schools, and all of their teachers.”

The Commended Scholars, Semifinalist, and Finalist students come from nine BASIS.ed schools network wide: BASIS Ahwatukee, BASIS Chandler, BASIS Flagstaff, BASIS Oro Valley, BASIS Peoria, BASIS Phoenix, BASIS Scottsdale, BASIS Tucson North, and BASIS Independent Silicon Valley.

All eleven BASIS.ed scholarship award winners are seniors at schools in Arizona, including seven students from BASIS Scottsdale, two from BASIS Phoenix, and one each from BASIS Oro Valley and BASIS Tucson North. Each earned a $2,500 scholarship toward her or his higher education.

Across the United States, the NMSC named 2,500 Merit Scholar designees (who each won $2,500) chosen from a talent pool of more than 16,000 Semifinalists and 15,000 Finalists in the 2016 program.

From the NMSC’s press release about the 2016 winners:

National Merit $2500 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.

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.

Here is a list of the BASIS.ed National Merit Scholarship award winners. The “probable career field” after each student’s name is courtesy of the NMSC press kit.

BASIS Oro Valley

  • Anna S. Zeng (probable career field: electrical engineering)

BASIS Phoenix

  • Tara Samra (probable career field: medicine)
  • Della S. Tao (probable career field: medicine)

BASIS Scottsdale

  • Casey S. Calhoun (probable career field: aerospace engineering)
  • Alex S. Cohen (probable career field: medicine)
  • Kyle N. Kovach (probable career field: engineering)
  • Abijith Krishnan (probable career field: physics)
  • Jayden R. Soni (probable career field: chemical engineering)
  • George Z. Yang (probable career field: nursing)
  • Xingyu Yang (probable career field: mathematics)

BASIS Tucson North

  • Diviya Rajesh (probable career field: international relations)

As for the competition itself, the NMSC reports that the 2016 scholars who are Commended or better began their engagement for National Merit Scholarships in October 2014 — when more than 1.5 million high school juniors in 22,000 U.S. high schools took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). That exam serves as the initial screen of program entrants.

Then, last fall, one year after the initial PSAT/NMSQT exam, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than one percent of high school seniors in the U.S., were named Semifinalists on a state-by-state basis. Following that, the NMSC named 15,000 finalists who “met the very high academic standards and other requirements to advance.”

About 7,500 Finalists thereafter earned the “Merit Scholar” title. Those winners have received approximately $33 million in higher education scholarships. However, only 2,500 of the Finalists win the $2,500 scholarship amount, funded by the NMSC itself. The remaining Merit Scholar designees earn either college-sponsored or corporate-sponsored awards of a lesser amount.

Here is how the NMSC describes itself, again quoting from its press release on the 2016 National Merit Scholarship winners:

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 440 independent corporate and college sponsors that share NMSC’s goals of honoring scholastically talented youth and encouraging academic excellence at all levels of education.

Phil Handler

Submit a comment