Baker gets ahead of the class and becomes national merit finalist


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Aurora Baker (12) holding her certificate of merit for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Being a year younger than the rest of your class and becoming a finalist for the National Merit Scholarship award seems to be unheard of. But Aurora Baker (12) accomplished just that. 

Before entering the National Merit Scholarship competition, Baker had to first meet a certain score on the PSAT in order to qualify for the scholarship. To prepare, she used PSAT study materials to review and refresh her math and English skills. Once she received her test results, she filled out the application and wrote an essay.

“I’m very excited to have become a finalist,” Baker said. “The University of Alabama, where I’m enrolling, offers a full ride to National Merit Finalists.” Baker plans to major in environmental science at the university.

If she does win the scholarship, she will be using the scholarship money to further fund her education. 

In total, three Oakville High School seniors have been selected as finalists for a National Merit Scholarship award.

The National Merit Scholarship Program is a competitive educational program that offers high school students scholarships and awards based on their academic achievements. Three types of scholarships can be awarded to students. 

Scholarship opportunities include National Merit $2500 Scholarships, corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards, and college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards.

Along with Aurora Baker, seniors Andrew Curran and Kathleen Seithel are among those selected as finalists for the three types of prestigious scholarships. 

Andrew Curran was entered into the competition after he took part in the PSAT last year. For him, the hardest part was the math portion of the test, which he prepared for by studying the math concepts he had previously learned. He did not expect to become a finalist, but he is ecstatic about his achievement.

“I hadn’t written many college essays before this, so I was just hoping for the best when applying,” Curran said. “It’s an amazing feeling to have some of your hard work pay off.”

Curran has decided to attend Northwestern University where he will be majoring in engineering. Whether or not he wins won’t affect his college choice, however “it would be great to have that little extra help when going to college if I do win.”

Seithel had a more calming approach in preparing for the PSAT.

“I didn’t really prepare for the PSAT because I knew that it would test on concepts I’ve seen in my classes,” Seithel said. “I just tried to relax during the test and keep moving forward.”

After achieving a qualifying score, Seithel was asked to write an essay, list her extracurricular activities, and submit her transmit and test scores to further progress in the program. Much like Curran, Seithel was surprised to find out she had become a National Merit Finalist. She is so grateful for this opportunity and very proud of herself for getting this far into the program. 

“Winning the scholarship would be absolutely amazing, as the cost of college has skyrocketed in recent years,” Seithel said. “I will immediately use the scholarship to cover some of the cost of my first year in college at Duke University!”

National Merit Finalists who win the scholarship will earn the title of National Merit Scholar.