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OHS senior Mather named National Merit finalist

February 24, 2022 | 12:06 am

Updated February 24, 2022 | 7:18 am

Owensboro High School senior Dylan Mather has been recognized as a finalist in the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Competition.

Mather was among approximately 16,000 students nationwide who earned designation as National Merit semifinalists in September by earning some of the highest scores in their state on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. 

“Being named a National Merit finalist is a huge deal for me,” Mather said. “It’s such a relief off my shoulders to finally have the process mostly over with. The entire process was almost a year and a half, so I barely even remember taking the original exam to qualify for a semifinalist. Before my junior year, one of my main goals was to become a NMF and so to do that is a big accomplishment.”

Mather now advances as a finalist for consideration for one of 7,500 National Merit Scholarships valued at a total of more than $30 million. The scholarships will be awarded in March.

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Mather said while the National Merit Scholarship Corporation gives out these scholarships from their program, the bulk of the money comes from universities offering scholarships for National Merit finalists as an incentive to attract more to their school. 

Currently, he is interested in the University of Alabama. 

“Their scholarship for NMFs gives 5 years of free tuition and housing, a $14,000 stipend covering food and parking and they pay for my books and give me other stipends for research and technology,” he said. “That 5-year scholarship will be huge for me to gain an extra free year for a post-graduate degree. So for now, my plan is to head to the University of Alabama and study Computer Science or Management Information Systems.”

At OHS, Mather is a member of the National Honors Society and the Bluegrass Scholars Program. He’s also team captain of the varsity tennis team, which he’s been a part of since the 4th grade. 

How the program works

The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. Approximately 1.5 million high school students enter the program each year.

High School students enter the competition by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).

Roughly 50,000 students with the highest scores qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program. In September, these high scorers are notified through their schools that they have qualified as either Commended Students or semifinalists.

About 16,000 students, or approximately one-third of the 50,000 high scorers, are notified that they have qualified as semifinalists. To ensure that academically talented young people from all parts of the United States are included, semifinalists are designated on a state-representational basis.

In February, some 15,000 semifinalists are notified that they have advanced to finalist standing. 

All winners of Merit Scholarship awards are chosen from the finalist group based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments—without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference. A variety of information is available for NMSC to evaluate: the finalist’s academic record, information about the school’s curriculum and grading system, PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index score, the high school official’s written recommendation, information about the student’s activities and leadership, and the finalist’s own essay.

Beginning in March and continuing to mid-June, NMSC notifies approximately 7,500 finalists that they have been selected to receive a Merit Scholarship award.

February 24, 2022 | 12:06 am

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