Four Waukee High School Seniors Named National Merit Semifinalists

Four Waukee High School seniors, Ashley Sjurson, Dakota Fouts, Benjamin Heidt and Noah Berthusen, were named National Merit semifinalists. Officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) announced the names of approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the 62nd annual National Merit Scholarship Program on September 13.

These students have displayed academic excellence, leadership, and strong work ethics throughout their high school careers. They will have the opportunity to proceed in the competition and potentially be among the 7,400 finalists selected for National Merit Scholarships worth about $32 million that will be offered next spring.

The four students feel honored for the opportunity and look forward to working hard to potentially become National Merit Scholarship Program finalists.

“I’m very pleased with myself for getting this far,” said Dakota Fouts, who plans to attend college after graduating high school. “I’m looking forward to continuing to represent Waukee High School.”

Both Sjurson and Heidt plan to attend Drake University after high school and major in actuarial science. Berthusen said he is looking at colleges in Iowa and Minnesota to study engineering.

Since 2010, Waukee High School has graduated 17 National Merit Finalists. Congratulations to this year’s semifinalists!

Steps in the 2017 Competition

About 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2015 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest scoring entrants in each state. The number of Semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors. To become a Finalist, the Semifinalist and his or her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the Semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test. 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 2017. 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 230 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 190 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,000 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution. National Merit Scholarship winners of 2017 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join more than 323,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.