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Four Fenwick Students Qualify as 2019-20 National Merit Scholar Semi-finalists

September 11, 2019

The Friars’ quartet is competing for 7,600 scholarships valued at more than $31 million.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) today announced those students who have qualified as Semi-finalists in this year’s Merit competition. Fenwick High School is pleased to report that it has four seniors who have qualified for this honor. Of the nearly 1.5 million students who sat for last year’s PSAT/ NMSQT examination, these students placed in approximately the top 1%. Of the 16,000 Semi-finalists, about half will be awarded scholarships under the auspices of the National Merit program, earning the “Merit Scholar” title.

“These seniors now move on to the next phase of the contest,” explains Richard Borsch, Director of College Counseling at Fenwick. “Congratulations to them -- and best wishes in the continuing competition!” The four Fenwick semifinalists, with grade schools and cities of residence, are:


From left: Eva Homberger (Oak Park, Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School); Joseph Zawacki (Oak Park, St. Giles Catholic School); Jacob Arquette
(Oak Park, Percy Julian Middle School); and Elizabeth Rogowski (Hinsdale, St. Isaac Jogues Catholic School).

These academically talented seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships, worth more than $31 million, announced between April and July 2020. A Semi-finalist 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.

65th Annual Merit Scholarship Program

For Merit Scholarship award consideration, Semi-finalists must fulfill several requirements and advance to the Finalist level of the competition, according to NMSC. For each Semi-finalist, the Fenwick administration will submit a detailed application providing information about the student’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. More than 90% of Semi-finalists can expect to attain Finalist standing, NMSC reports.

Scholarships are under-written by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 410 business organizations as well as higher-educational institutions. Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered next spring. Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 Scholarships awarded on a state-representational basis. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by 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.

Based in Evanston, NMSC is a not-for-profit organization that has awarded scholarships to more than 330,000 deserving students since it was established in 1955.


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