24 West High seniors named National Merit Semifinalists

Officials of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) have announced the names of approximately 16,000 semifinalists in the 67th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. West High is proud to have 24 students selected.


Courtesy of the Iowa City Community School District

Front row from left to right: Raina Pfeifer, Emily Shian, Miles Clark, William Chen, Boaz Abramoff, Luke Fasse, Caden Noeller, Miles Davies, Thayer Abu-Hijleh, Nikolas Sung, Jonathan Chen, Luka Chackalackal, Akhil Bharanidhar Back row from left to right: Zoey Guo, Helen Zhang, Theodore Wilbur, Jimin Seo, Anne Wu, Caroline Mascardo, Jack Harris, Liam Edberg, Bivan Shrestha, Aidan Ohl, Andy Luo

Owen Aanestad, Online Editor-In-Chief

To be named as National Merit Semifinalists, these seniors scored among the top one percent of students nationwide on the 2020 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).

The Iowa City Community School District has 33 semifinalists, with five semifinalists from City High School, four semifinalists from Liberty High School, and 24 semifinalists from West High School.

These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 Merit Scholarship awards, worth $30 million, that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements and advance to the finalist level of the competition.

More than 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 U.S. high schools entered the 2022 National Merit Program by taking the 2020 PSAT/NMSQT, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, which represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

To become a finalist, the semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed application, which includes information about the student’s academic record, activities, leadership abilities, employment, and honors received. A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® or ACT® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

Approximately 15,000 of the semifinalists are expected to advance to the finalist level, and it is from this group that all National Merit Scholarship winners will be chosen. Merit designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.

National Merit Scholarship winners of 2022 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join more than 362,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.

All 24 West High students that have received this prestigious honor are listed below:

Boaz Abramoff, Thayer Abu-Hijleh, Akhil Bharanidhar, Luka Chackalackal, William Chen, Jonathan Chen, Miles Clark, Miles Davies, Liam Edberg, Luke Fasse, Zoey Guo, Jack Harris, Andy Luo, Caroline Mascardo, Caden Noeller, Aidan Ohl, Raina Pfeifer, Jimin Seo, Emily Shian, Bivan Shrestha, Nikolas Sung, Theodore Wilbur, Anne Wu and Helen Zhang.