Qualifying as a National Merit Scholar semi-finalist is no easy task-, but the scholarship awards such a title may heraldmake it a highly-desirable achievement. The academic honor is awarded annually to some of the most gifted students in the country and provides scholarships for college. The senior class of UAHS has 17 semi-finalists vying for spots, all conscious of the scholarship money at stake.

Senior Caroline Galluzzi is one of the 17 UAHS students who qualified as a semi-finalist as a National Merit scholar, she said her preparation started early for her.

“I didn’t prepare necessarily,” Galluzzi said. “But I have taken rigorous coursework throughout my high school career.”

Galluzzi said the award was a symbol of her efforts in high school.

“It makes me feel like all my hard work paid off,” Galluzzi said. “After all these years of working hard, the recognition is my reward.”

Senior Connor Bloomfield also qualified for the award and said the recognition was fulfilling.

“It was an intense relief when I found out my [PSAT] score in February and knew that I had made it,” Bloomfield said. “I’m extremely competitive and neurotic, so this was very satisfying.”

Bloomfield also said the award was a tradition in his family.

“My mother and most my cousins were National Merit Scholars,” Bloomfield said. “So I was in the mindset that I had to be one also just to be equal to them.”

Admissions to colleges becomes less daunting for these students, as they are given a boost by their semi-finalist status.

“College-wise, I hope this looks good on my applications and helps me with admissions and scholarship money,” Bloomfield said. “I have two younger brothers…and we’re all going to be in college at the same time. So I definitely need that scholarship money really badly.”

Galluzzi held similar views saying that the scholarship was a good motivation for trying to attain National Merit Scholar status.

“I’ve received some letters from colleges already just because I’m a semi-finalist,” Galluzzi said. “So it would definitely be nice if I could get a scholarship for college from National Merit Scholar.”

National Merit Scholars are students selected based on their PSAT scores and after qualifying as a semi-finalist, they must apply to become a finalist. The application process includes essays and background information about the applicant.

In the current unstable economy, scholarships are a desirable option for most students. Luckily for these students, this has become closer to reality.