Being named a National Merit Scholar is considered to be one of the most prestigious titles awarded to high school students. This year, five Diamond Bar High School seniors will receive the scholarship: Keshav Sriram, Mena Hassan, Ryan Lou, Catherine Lu and Tom Murickan.
Every year, about 1.6 million juniors from around the country take the PSAT to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship. The $2,500 scholarship and the title of National Merit Scholar are awarded to 2,500 students, less than 1 percent of the initial pool of applicants.
In order to be considered for the scholarship, students submit two standardized test scores, their academic record, a detailed application and a letter of recommendation.
The application includes a personal statement and information about the student’s extracurricular activities, awards and leadership positions.
A big resource Hassan had while she was applying for the scholarship was GLC Marc Natividad. She said that he kept her and the rest of the semifinalists updated about the deadlines, and he even informed them they needed a letter of recommendation.
“If he hadn’t told us [about the letter of recommendation], we would have just not submitted that and would have been out of the running for the scholarship process,” Hassan said.
Murickan noted that since he was already in the middle of applying for colleges, completing an application for the scholarship wasn’t that much of a burden.
“I completed the application on my own, utilizing previous essays I had written and my UC activities list to craft the best application I could,” Murickan said via Instagram.
Hassan said she believes her application made her stand out among the list of candidates. She said she took her time to list out and rank all her activities and submit a strong personal statement.
She also believed that emphasizing how she had a specific path for her future and how to use the scholarship money to help her in college gave her an edge.
Both Hassan and Murickan said they felt extremely grateful to be announced a National Merit Scholar.
“More than being recognized for the achievements I’ve had in high school, I felt proud that I could be considered a worthy role model for underclassmen at DBHS,” Murickan said.
Hassan will be attending Stanford in the fall as a Computer Science or Economics major while Murickan will be attending University of Arizona as a biomedical engineer major and is interested in minoring in neuroscience and biostatistics.
“My biggest advice for juniors and seniors applying to be a National Merit Scholar, beyond maintaining high academic performance, is to be consistent with your passion,” he said. “That means that you need to put the most effort into what matters most to you, because that type of dedication and passion is what most matters to the person reading your application.”