Students honored for their academics


Thirteen senior students from Diamond Bar were selected as semifinalists for the 2023 National Merit Scholarship program.

Performing exceptionally once again, 13 Diamond Bar High School seniors were announced as semifinalists in the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program last month.

The program is a national competition that aims to provide students with financial aid in order to pursue higher education. Hosted by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, students are capable of qualifying for a scholarship through a high PSAT score.

The students who earned this title include: Ryan Chung, Jeffrey Gong, Marcus Hsieh, Andrew Huang, Edward Kim, Jason Kim, Jenna Kim, William Li, Chloe Lim, Ryan Shin, Angie Sun, Angelina Young and Max Zhu. 

“It was really rewarding for me when I got the news. I’ve dedicated so many hours to studying and preparing while sacrificing my leisure time,” senior Angie Sun said via Instagram. 

Qualifying for such an award requires a student to score in the top one percent in the PSAT—of all high school students in the nation. The pool of semifinalists was comprised of about 16,000 students, with less than half that amount going on to become National Merit Scholars. 

The score required to compete for the semifinalist position for California residents generally overshadows those of other states, with this year’s selection index rating being 221, second only to a rating of 222. 

In a general study done by the Compass Education Group, the pandemic’s influence on recent results are shown in a declining number of qualifications. Remote learning and self-paced programs have led to a performance deficit and weak National Merit numbers. Despite having over 500,000 more PSAT junior participants, the country’s class of 2023’s total percentage of scorers between 1400-1520 dropped by 0.8% in comparison to the class of 2022’s. 

“I was more relieved than happy when I got the news,” senior Max Zhu said. “There’s so many really competitive students at Diamond Bar, so being a semifinalist has given me a way to stand out.” 

Zhu’s score was the result of SAT prep weeks prior with hopes of scoring well on the actual exam. 

“I was expecting to score somewhat well, but I didn’t think I’d be capable of becoming a semifinalist because I’ve always struggled with the test’s reading sections,” Zhu said. 

Students looking to become scholars must not only complete the National Merit Scholarship Application, but also be recommended by their high school principal and an additional staff member. The central portion of the application was an essay prompt asking participants to describe a meaningful experience, person or obstacle that they have encountered.

Those who do qualify to become scholars will be granted a $2500 scholarship and is one of the primary incentives for students to perform well on the test. Finalists who are granted scholarships will be announced in mid-June. 

“I also discovered that I could get a full ride to one of National Merit’s sponsor universities for being a semifinalist,” Sun said. “It feels great seeing the results of my labor come to fruition.”