Two local students win national scholarship

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More than 1,600 Black American high school seniors who have been designated semifinalists in the 51st annual National Achievement Scholarship Program were announced today by National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) officials, including two local students.

Kasoorelope Y. Oguntuyo of Gadsden City High and Elizabeth M. Williams of Westbrook Christian received a National Achievement Scholarship. 

These scholastically talented young men and women now have an opportunity to continue in the competition for approximately 800 Achievement Scholarship® awards worth about $2.5 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a National Achievement Scholarship, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. About 80 percent of Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and more than half of the Finalists will win an Achievement Scholarship award. The National Achievement Scholarship Program, conducted by NMSC, is a privately financed academic competition that operates without government assistance. It was initiated in 1964 to recognize academically promising black students throughout the nation and to provide scholarships to a substantial number of the most outstanding program participants. To date, approximately 33,500 young men and women have received Achievement Scholarship awards worth about $105 million.

More than 160,000 high school juniors from all parts of the United States requested consideration in the 2015 National Achievement Scholarship Program when they took the Semifinalists in the 2015 National Achievement Scholarship Program Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®). Semifinalists are designated within geographic regions and are the highest-scoring program entrants in the states that make up each region.

To advance to the Finalist level in the competition, the Semifinalist and his or her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application in which they provide information about the student’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. Semifinalists must present a record of high academic performance throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® scores that confirm their PSAT/NMSQT performance.

From the approximately 1,600 Semifinalists, about 1,300 are expected to advance to the Finalist level, and in January they will be notified of this designation. All Achievement Scholar® awardees will be selected from the Finalist group on the basis of their abilities, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

National Achievement Scholarships provided in 2015 will be supported by corporations, professional organizations, foundations, and by NMSC’s own funds. Two types of scholarships will be offered. Every Finalist will compete for one of the 700 one-time National Achievement® $2500 Scholarships, which will be awarded on a regional representation basis. In addition, corporate and business sponsors will underwrite about 100 Achievement Scholarship awards for Finalists who meet criteria set by the grantor. Although some corporate-sponsored awards provide a single payment, most are renewable for up to four years of undergraduate study. NMSC will release the names of scholarship winners to news media in early April.

The National Achievement Scholarship Program will undergo a transition after the conclusion of the 2015 program. NMSC is forging a new relationship with UNCF, the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. UNCF will carry on the name and legacy of the National Achievement Scholarship Program through a newly designed program for college graduates. The new program, which will be administered by UNCF and underwritten by the National Achievement Scholarship Program, will honor and award financial assistance to high-achieving, underrepresented college graduates.

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