For the first time since 2017, two Eastern Mennonite High School students have been awarded the National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist Award. Gabriel Albers and Arwen Hertzler were the only two students recognized with the award in the Shenandoah Valley in 2020. Watch a video of Justin King, high school principal, recognizing the two.
The award positions the two to apply for scholarships and recognizes the academic accomplishments of students across the United States. The two students qualified for this recognition with their PSAT (Preliminary SAT) scores, a test that they took during their junior year. Almost 1.6 million students are entered in this program, and about 50,000 students qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program. Of those 50,000 students, 16,00 students across the country are part of the Semi-Finalist Division.
As semi finalists, Albers and Hertzler will now have to apply to be selected as finalists. This process includes a submission of transcripts, essays, and letters of recommendation. They will also begin to apply for the other possible scholarships that they can receive.
“It’s very exciting to have two students achieve semi-finalist status this year” said Jodi Hertzler, college and career counselor. “It’s an impressive accomplishment, one that fewer than 1% of the nation’s high school seniors achieve. I’ve been the college counselor since fall 2014, and in that time we’ve had only three others earn this distinction”
Merit Scholarship awards are funded by some 400 independent sponsors and by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation’s (NMSC) own funds. Sponsor organizations include corporations and businesses, company foundations, professional associations, and colleges and universities. These scholarships can be put towards undergraduate tuition or summer research programs within universities.
Gabe Albers and Arwen Hertzler are both in this year’s graduating class of 2021. Both have been involved in music, athletics, and academics. Gabriel’s parents are Benjamin Albers and Sarah Butzen; Arwen’s parents are Jodi and Shelby Hertzler.
This article was written by Emma Myers ’21, a marketing/communications intern with the EMS advancement office, fall 2020.