Grand Haven High School’s Brenner Kar and Lily Mears are among about 16,000 students across the country who were named semifinalists for the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program.
More than 1.6 million high school juniors took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Less than 1 percent of high school seniors become semifinalists, according to a press release.
GHHS Principal Tracy Wilson said Mears and Kar have worked hard to earn the recognition, and she couldn’t be more proud.
“Not only does this affirm them for the academic path they are on, but also the staff for their intentional focus on excellence,” Wilson said. “These types of awards allow our entire school district to celebrate. We will anxiously wait to see if either one of them or both become a National Merit Finalist.”
Mears, 16, said she was surprised because she thought her score was right at the cut-off point. She noted that both of her parents were also National Merit Semifinalists.
Given his score, Kar, 17, said he expected to make the cut.
“It’s an honor,” he said.
Over the years, Kar has been involved in Science Olympiad and National Honor Society, and has taken Advanced Placement courses. He is also the goalie for a Grand Haven varsity soccer team.
While Kar is debating where he would like to attend college, his top choices include the University of Michigan, Purdue University and Northwestern University. He plans to study engineering, either mechanical or chemical, because of his interest in math and science. Kar said he wants to use his skills to help other people.
Mears has been involved in Model U.N., National Honor Society, orchestra and taekwondo, and has taken Advanced Placement courses. She also serves on the youth advisory council for a teen mental health center.
Mears plans to tour Texas A&M in the coming weeks. She plans to study pre-med and pursue a career in the medical field because, she said, it’s growing and would provide a steady income.
Looking ahead, Kar and Mears will complete an application that details their academic record, activities and awards they’ve received.
More than 90 percent of semifinalists are expected to become finalists, and they will be notified in February. Finalists will compete for 2,500 National Merit Scholarships and 1,000 corporate-sponsored scholarships. Additionally, 180 universities and colleges are anticipated to finance about 4,000 college-sponsored Merit Scholarships, according to a press release.