Seven Conant students earn National Merit recognition

Annika Lafyatis | Conant Crier

The National Merit Finalists are recognized at a District 211 board meeting

Seven Conant students were National Merit Finalists, and two of these students won corporate scholarships. All students were honored with a certificate at a district reception.

The honorees were seniors Anubhav Agarwal, Adithya Chari, Annika Lafyatis, Bianca Saputra, Nitinshankar Subramanian, Sarah Yamaguchi, and Allison Zhang.

Saputra won the $2,500 National Merit Abbvie, Inc. scholarship, and Lafyatis won the $1,000 National Merit Citizen Watch scholarship.

Only one percent of students who take the PSAT in each state become semifinalists, and 15,000 become finalists after sending an application with their transcript, SAT score, and an essay to the National Merit Foundation.

About half of the finalists receive a scholarship from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, their college, or a corporate sponsor.

Saputra said, “I will be attending Duke in the fall and will use the money towards tuition and room and board there. This makes the school more feasible for my family and I.”

Lafyatis said, “I won a corporate scholarship, which about 1,000 students earn nationwide. My specific award was the National Merit Citizen Watch award, which is given to 25 students each year, and one Illinois student per year.”

She added that this is one of her proudest achievements in high school and that she may intern with Citizen in the future.

The finalists offered advice for students hoping to become National Merit Finalists.

Yamaguchi said, “Don’t stress yourself out. Prepare as best you can but don’t overdo it, or you might be too anxious to do well.”

“The NMS isn’t just a test that you just study for temporarily and try to achieve highly in. You’re evaluated on pretty much the whole scope of your [college] application, so it’s not just important to have good grades or high test scores, but also insightful and thoughtful essays [to earn finalist status],” Subramanian said.

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