2021 National Merit Scholarship Program

Two Badgers Among Semifinalists in the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program
Posted on 09/22/2020
Two Badgers Among Semifinalists in the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program

Badger High School Principal Jenny Straus has been notified that the National Merit Scholarship Corporation recognized two Badger High School students, Jack E. Adams and Joseph E. Murphy, as semifinalists in the 66th Annual National Merit Scholarship Program. They are among approximately 16,000 seniors announced by officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) as semifinalists this year.

These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition. Over 90 percent of the semifinalist are expected to attain finalist standing, and more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

Murphy, who has taken a total of 20 Advanced Placement (AP) and honors courses, credits the classes he’s taken at Badger as the key to his success on the Preliminary SAT, the pre-college placement exam on which the NMSC is based. “When preparing for the PSAT, nothing helped me more than the challenging courses I had available to me. After years of difficult work, it became much easier to think on my feet with the questions thrown at me on the PSAT.”

“Badger was great about reminding us when and how to sign up for the PSAT,” said Adams. He says the practice ACT questions in AP English Language helped him to prepare for having to answer questions with very limited time. “Shout out to Mrs. Shotliff,” he said. “She gave us some great tips and access to study resources and practice tests.”

Jack hopes to study linguistics at the University of Chicago or UW Madison after graduation.

Both students are known at Badger for their character and involvement. “Joe has been involved with Yerkes Observatory for many years and continues with Geneva Lakes Astrophysics and STEAM where he is an intern currently,” said Steve Deering, Badger High School Counselor. “Joe designed the sensors that monitor light pollution throughout the area as part of the LENS program. He was also a collaborator on the IDATA project that helped visually impaired individuals experience astronomy.”

Adams transferred to Badger sophomore year and has been an outstanding student. According to his counselor, Adam Rosencrans, “He has excelled in the classroom, challenging himself with AP and Honors classes and doing very well in them. Jack is also a very respectful, kind and intelligent young man. I've enjoyed all of my interactions with him, as he comes to meetings prepared and willing to learn, he isn't afraid to advocate for himself or afraid to ask questions when needed.”

NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 400 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.

From the approximately 16,000 Semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level, and in February they will be notified of this designation. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of Finalists. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.

National Merit Scholarships

Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2021. Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state-representational basis. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 220 corporations and business organizations for Finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. In addition, about 180 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,100 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.

National Merit Scholarship winners of 2021 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join more than 353,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.

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