Nadia Merz had a suspicion.
Knowing her score on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test and the cutoff number needed to be named a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist, she suspected she might be selected.
This week, the Wilmington Area High School senior was “excited” to learn she was right.
The only Lawrence County resident to receive the honor in this year’s 66th annual program, Merz was among nearly 16,000 students chosen for the designation. Those named as semifinalists represent approximately the top one percent of the roughly 1.5 million students taking the PSAT within the last year.
As a semifinalist, Merz continues in the competition for 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million. While test scores alone determine semifinalist status, to move on, selected students must submit a detailed scholarship application including transcripts, recommendations and an essay.
According to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, about 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing and about half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title. Final results will be announced in the spring.
“Nadia’s just a great kid all around,” said Taryn Powell, high school counselor at Wilmington, noting the semifinalist’s volunteer work at the Hoyt Center for the Arts and her participation in school activities including choral groups, National Honor Society and the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science.
“It’s more than just academics, she’s also very creative and artistic, and a fantastic singer,” Powell said.
A daughter of New Wilmington residents Natacha Fontes-Merz and Tom Merz, Merz hasn’t quite decided what she plans to do after graduation.
She’s thinking of perhaps studying computer science at a larger university out of the area.
“I know I want to go to college, probably somewhere farther away because I like to explore,” said Merz, who opted to start her senior year fully online.
“I think Wilmington does a great job getting us ready for what’s next,” she added. “I was able to take classes above my grade level and do dual enrollment classes at Westminster.”
For those following behind her and taking the PSAT this school year, Nadia believes they too should go beyond their grade level.
“I would recommend taking multiple full length practice SATs,” she said, explaining, “They are longer and usually have slightly more difficult questions than the PSAT, so they are good preparation.”