T.C. Williams High School senior Sierra Arnold has been named as a semifinalist in the 62nd annual National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) program. She is among 16,000 talented semifinalists who will have an opportunity to continue in the competition for 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth about $33 million that will be offered next spring.
“Being a semifinalist is a validation of the time and energy I’ve put into my work, but at the same time, it’s a push to keep going, to stay focused and keep striving for excellence. It confirms that I’ve made a step toward my goals,” said Sierra.
Sierra attributes her success to the work ethic that was instilled in her during elementary school years at George Mason Elementary School, when her parents had her read a certain number of books before doing anything else. Being on the crew team has further developed that ethic, which she feels made her very resilient, mentally and physically.
Sierra’s career interests include space exploration, including research in astronomy or astrobiology with NASA, or being tapped as an astronaut. Publishing and curating are also areas of interest. Colleges she is considering include MIT, Berkeley and the University of Michigan.
To become a finalist, a semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by their high school’s principal and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test. Additionally, the semifinalist and a school official submit a detailed scholarship application including a student essay and their participation and leadership in school and community activities.
Seven students will receive Letters of Commendation, six of whom will be honored at a special breakfast honoring all of the students on Tuesday. Letters will be presented to Ella Benbow, Amanda Eisenhour, John Elkins, Jason Filios, Samuel Lally, Michael Morris and Anna Wolz.
These students are among the 34,000 students Commended by the NMSC, who placed among the top five percent of more than 1.6 million students who entered the 2017 competition by taking the 2015 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT(R))