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Friday, June 14, 2024

Nine Ocala area high school students win National Merit Scholarships

Nine high school students from Ocala have been awarded National Merit Scholarships that they will use to attend colleges and universities this fall.

On Tuesday, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced over 2,900 winners of National Merit Scholarships. All of the scholarships were financed by colleges and universities in the United States.

According to NMSC, the sponsor universities and colleges selected scholarship winners from among the Finalists in the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program who planned to attend their institutions.

Seven of the Ocala-area students will receive between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at their designated institutions. Those scholarship winners included four Vanguard High School students: Gianna M. Meccia, who will attend the University of Central Florida, Divyaa Nandur, who will attend the University of Florida, Akksayan Sivasekaran, who will attend the University of Florida, and Lamia Zaman, who will attend the University of Florida.

Scholarships were also given to Blake A. Barnes of Forest High School, who will attend the University of Central Florida, Anish Veerapaneni of Oak Hall School, who will attend the University of Florida, and Fabiola C. Lugo-Iglesias of The Villages Charter School, Middleton, who will attend the University of Florida.

The other two previously announced scholarship winners, Rishit A. Shaquib and Gabriel Delarosa Ribay, were awarded $2,500 National Merit Scholarships. The students, who both graduated from Vanguard High School, were among 2,500 students judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, according to NMSC.

High school juniors entered the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program when they took the 2022 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. Last fall, more than 16,000 Semifinalists were named on a state-representational basis in numbers proportional to each state’s percentage of the national total of graduating high school seniors. Semifinalists were the highest-scoring program entrants in each state and represented less than one percent of the nation’s seniors.

To compete for Merit Scholarship awards, Semifinalists first had to advance to the Finalist level of the competition by fulfilling additional requirements, including submission of a detailed scholarship application, which included writing an essay and providing information about extracurricular activities, awards, and leadership positions. Semifinalists also had to have an outstanding academic record, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, and earn SAT or ACT scores that confirmed the qualifying test performance. From the Semifinalist group, over 15,000 met requirements for Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists will be Merit Scholarship winners in 2024, according to NMSC.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation is a nonprofit organization that was established in 1955 to manage the National Merit Scholarship Program. The majority of the scholarships provided each year are made possible by the support of approximately 320 independent corporate and college sponsors.

Tuesday’s announcement is the third National Merit Scholar release in 2024 by NMSC. The organization named recipients of corporate-sponsored awards on April 24 and winners of National Merit® $2500 Scholarships on May 8. Additional recipients of college-sponsored awards will be announced on July 15. By the conclusion of this year’s competition, more than 6,870 academic champions will have won National Merit Scholarships worth approximately $26 million, according to NMSC.