ALEXANDRIA, VA – Aiden Crowe, Nikolai Kosinski, and Caroline Winakur have been friends since the eighth grade. They bonded during an Algebra 2 class, when their teacher, Sarah Devito, discovered that their skills set them apart from their peers. Now seniors at T.C. Williams High School, the trio recently learned they have been named National Merit Scholar semi-finalists for the 2020-2021 school year.
The three students had to wait almost a year for the news. Each sat for the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test last October.
“I was really excited when I found out, said Crowe. “I had been in a state of will it happen, won’t it happen for the entire year.”
He recalled that when he shared his excitement with Devito, she was thrilled for her former students.
She “told us that we all had great futures ahead,” Crowe said.
Finalists will be announced in February, so the three are required to submit personal essays to move on to that round. The essays give the selection committee an opportunity to know candidates better.
Crowe plans to study engineering at MIT. Kosinki and Winakur want to study engineering as well but are leaving their college options open.
The National Merit Scholarship
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), founded in 1955, awards scholarships to deserving students each year, totaling $40 million.
According to the NMSC website, the scholarship program “was created to identify and honor scholastically talented American youth and to encourage them to develop their abilities to the fullest.”
Last year, 3.8 million students from around the country sat for the qualifying test. Approximately 16,000 make it to the semi-final stages each year, and 15,000 reach the finals. During the last round, roughly 8,7000 students receive scholarship awards.
Nine T.C. students in all took the test. The six others who were recognized by the NMSC for their “outstanding performance” but ultimately did not make the cut were: Eva Campbell, Anna Dugan, Grace Guimond, Anna Hill, Mia Humphrey and Madeleine Kysilko.
“I am proud of all nine of these exceptional Titans who have shown dedication to their studies,” said Principal Peter Balas. “We wish Caroline, Nikolai and Aiden the best of luck as the competition progresses.”
Note: Cover photo on Zebra himepage is an ACPS photo.