The Hawkeye

Terrace senior named National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist

Senior+Cameron+Suraci+posses+with+a+MTHS+weekly+highlight+which+noted+his+success+in+being+named+as+a+semi-finalist.
Senior Cameron Suraci posses with a MTHS weekly highlight which noted his success in being named as a semi-finalist.

Senior Cameron Suraci posses with a MTHS weekly highlight which noted his success in being named as a semi-finalist.

Teresa Bonilla

Teresa Bonilla

Senior Cameron Suraci posses with a MTHS weekly highlight which noted his success in being named as a semi-finalist.

By Nhung Lam, Hawkeye Staff

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Two high school students from the Edmonds School District (ESD), including MTHS senior Cameron Suraci, were named semi-finalists for the National Merit Scholarship (NMSC)

Since 1955, the NMSC has been an academic competition for recognition and college scholarships. Last year, 1.6 million juniors across the nation took the Pre-SAT (PSAT). The NMSC recognized 16,000 students across the nation who had the highest scores on the PSAT. About 90 percent of the semi-finalists will become finalists, and half of the finalists will receive awards.

“It feels really satisfying to be a semi-finalist. I put the hours in for this, and it’s nice to finally get a payoff,” Suraci said.

Suraci earned a score of 1500 on the PSAT, which carried over to a score of 224 on the NMSQT selection index. An NMSQT score of 222 qualifies students as a semi-finalist in Washington.

Initially, the news of his semi-finalist status was delayed for Suraci, which made “[him] honestly worried by how long it took to get the news because in [Washington] state the standard is set higher than most other states at an NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) qualifying score of 222, and it was entirely possible for even a high score to have been too low to earn the [semi-finalist] position.”

Suraci learned of his position September 20 from the Seattle Times.“Finally hearing about [being a semi-finalist] was both incredibly relieving and incredibly satisfying,” Suraci said.

Although Suraci has been named a semi-finalist, he is not done with the scholarship process yet. The second requirement for the scholarship is to score high enough on the SAT to prove that the PSAT assessment score was correct. Suraci was able to accomplish the second requirement. For semi-finalists to qualify as finalists, they must complete the National Merit Scholarship Application using NMSC’s Online Scholarship Application.

Semi-finalists will also need a letter of recommendation from their counselors.

The scholarship also requires semi-finalists to write a college admissions-style essay. This essay is to prove that the student is well rounded. The scholarship will also require Suraci to have high enough class grades to ensure that he is also on top of his classes.

Suraci said the potential scholarship “would help [him] afford a more expensive college than the University of Washington.”

In the near future, Suraci would like to attend a smaller private college rather than a large university. Small private colleges, Suraci said, would be more affordable, and he feels that at large universities, undergraduates rarely get to participate in lab work. He wants to study biology and chemistry. Small private colleges would be more affordable to him, he said, also noting that at large universities, undergraduates rarely get to participate in lab work that he would like to experience.

Suraci recommends that those who wish to pursue this scholarship practice standardized testing. Suraci took two practice tests and did many practice problems in preparation for the PSAT. “Stay confident, but know where you make mistakes and know how to prevent that from happening,” Suraci said.

On the no-calculator math sections of the test, Suraci recommends showing as much work as possible, which greatly decreases the chance of choosing the wrong answer. For reading questions with two articles, Suraci suggests students read one of the articles, answer the questions, then read the other article, answer the questions and then answer questions on both articles.

“On the English section, [‘no] change’ is a much more common answer than most people think states,” Suraci said.

Suraci also suggests using a graphing calculator if available on the math portion of the test.

Suraci wanted to eliminate any stress that could slow him down or cause him to make mistakes. To reduce stress, Suraci used a study book that had thorough answer explanations which helped him pinpoint specific problems with his test-taking techniques.

In the near future, Suraci would like to attend a smaller private college rather than a large university.. He wants to study biology and chemistry. Small private colleges would be more affordable to Suraci and Suraci also feels that at large universities, undergraduates rarely get to participate in lab work a which he would like to experience.

Being the only one from MTHS to be named a semi-finalist, Suraci thinks tests such as the PSAT in the ESD are “treated [as] one of the standardized tests that the district makes us take, not a potentially important test.” Suraci hopes to see multiple semi-finalists from MTHS next year. He believes there are plenty of people who are qualified and would like them to be recognized and to potentially earn scholarships for it.

“I truly believe we need to take steps like this at [MTHS] because I know there are people at our school that could have been semi-finalists if they had known that taking it seriously was important,” Suraci said.

NMSC will notify finalists in mid-February at their home address. NMSC will inform semi-finalists’ high school principals on their status and provide a Certificate of Merit for those who qualify as a finalist.

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About the Writer
Nhung Lam, Hawkeye Staff
Nhung Lam, a junior and third-year staff at the Hawkeye started her Journalism career at Brier Terrace Middle School’s The Bulldog Brief. In Hawkeye, she enjoys covering sports in photography and writing about things that interest her, such as sports, local events and problems in the community. As a MTHS student, Nhung participates in the school's Concert Orchestra playing the violin, Honors STEM Program specifically the Biotechnology pathway, tutoring, IATRIX, swim team and tennis team.
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Terrace senior named National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist