By Jeff Harrison
Two Carl Albert High School students were named 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists.
Seniors Zachary Tu and Madison Barron were both selected for the program based on their Preliminary SAT scores they received as juniors.
About 90 percent of the semifinalists will be named a finalist. About half of those finalists will earn a scholarship. The program will grant more than $31 million to about 7,600 students nationwide.
Both Tu and Barron said they were honored to be selected for the program.
Tu said he was confident after scoring a 1510 on the PSAT last year, which was well above the cutoff mark.
The senior comes from a successful family. Both of his brothers Alex and Nicholas were both National Merit finalists. Nicholas is an undergrad student at OU. Alex graduated from OU and is in law school at Vanderbilt University.
Tu wants to go out of state for college, likely to a large state university or private school such as Harvard or Princeton. He would like to study mathematics and possibly double major in music. He plays cello and violin in orchestra and plans to continue at college.
Tu is involved in several activities including orchestra, Key Club, chess, and academic team.
Barron said she was confident in her score on the PSAT but knew it would be close for the National Merit Scholarship program. And after nearly a year, she received the good news.
“I was sort of surprised and relieved that I made it,” she said.
Barron is also involved in several school activities including cross country, track and field, National Honor Society, Junior Rotary Club, and band.
She enjoys math and science classes and is considering studying engineering in college. She said she’s undecided on college but will likely attend OU.
To become a finalist, semifinalists and an official from their high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, including information on the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received.
A finalist, according to the National Merit Scholarship Program, must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, write an essay, and earn SAT or ACT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test, among other factors.
Finalists will compete for $2,500 scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship program as well as corporate and college-sponsored awards. Winners will be announced beginning in April.