Angello Gianni Hernandez-De la Pena and Freya Abraham. Submitted photo

By Bernadette Russoniello

Every October students across the country put their academic merit to the test through the PSAT/NMSQT assessment provided by the College Board. The PSAT is a preliminary SAT, a full-length practice test that mimics the environment and conditions for the formidable college admissions test.

Additionally, for students in their junior year of high school, the exam is a two-for: it also serves as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

Last October, two Maricopa High School students achieved at the top of the nearly 1.5 million students who tested. Placing in the top 1 percent of test takers in the state, Angello Gianni Hernandez-De la Pena and Freya Abraham outperformed their classmates throughout the state and nation. Sept. 11, they were announced as National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalists and recognized by the College Board for their outstanding academic performance.

The National Merit Scholarship program will announce their finalists later this fall; students then compete for the ultimate honor of being named a Merit Scholar. This honor comes with financial rewards: $2,500 from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation plus entry into nearly $31 million in scholarship awards from business and industry partners reserved specifically for Merit Scholars.

From our state universities, Angello and Freya can expect full-ride awards.

Students register for the PSAT/NMSQT at Maricopa High School with a $16 fee; 11th grade students who qualify for free or reduced lunch receive a fee waiver for the test. This year, students will test Oct.16. MHS also participates in the PSAT 10, an additional practice test opportunity geared to underclassmen for the spring. This year’s PSAT 10 will be April 30.

Although Angello and Freya are open to offers from universities across the nation, both are happy with the idea of staying in-state at the honors colleges at either U of A or ASU. Angello plans to study computer science while Freya plans to pursue medicine.

Bernadette Russoniello is the College and Career coordinator at Maricopa High School.

This column appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.


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