Local student Merit Scholarship winner

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Matthew E. Denton, of Thayer, with a probable career field of Computer Science, has received the National Merit BNSF Railway Foundatoin Scholarship.

BNSF Corporation operates one of the largest railroad networks in North America, with 34,000 route miles covering 28 states and two Canadian provinces. This network stretches from major Pacific Northwest and southern California ports to the Midwest, Southeast and Southwest, and from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada. BNSF supports Merit Scholarship awards for qualified children of Burlington Northern Santa Fe employees as part of its overall program.

On April 23, National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) released the names of the first group of winners, including Denton, in the 66th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Approximately 1,000 distinguished high school seniors have won corporate-sponsored National Merit Scholarship awards financed by about 140 corporations, company foundations, and other business organizations.

Scholars were selected from students who advanced to the Finalist level in the National Merit Scholarship competition and met criteria of their scholarship sponsors. Corporate sponsors provide National Merit Scholarships for Finalists who are children of their employees, who are residents of communities the company serves, or who plan to pursue college majors or careers the sponsor wishes to encourage.

Most of these awards are renewable for up to four years of college undergraduate study and provide annual stipends that range from $1,000 to $10,000 per year. Some provide a single payment between $2,500 and $5,000. Recipients can use their awards at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university of their choice.

Funding for these National Merit Scholarships is provided by corporate organizations that represent nearly all sectors of American industry. Sponsors from the business community have underwritten awards offered in all 66 competitions, expending or committing approximately $834 million to support the intellectual development of the nation’s scholastically talented youth.

2021 National Merit Scholarship Competition

Over 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program when they took the 2019 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. In September 2020, approximately 17,000 Semifinalists were designated on a state-representational basis in numbers proportional to each state’s percentage of the national total of graduating high school seniors. Semifinalists were the highest-scoring program entrants in each state and represented less than one percent of the nation’s seniors.

To be considered for a National Merit Scholarship, Semifinalists had to fulfill requirements to advance to Finalist standing. Each Semifinalist was asked to complete a detailed scholarship application, which included writing an essay and providing information about extracurricular activities, awards, and leadership positions. Semifinalists also had to have an outstanding academic record, and be endorsed and recommended by a high school official. From the Semifinalist group, some 16,000 met Finalist requirements.

By the conclusion of the 2021 competition, about 7,500 Finalists will have been selected to receive National Merit Scholarships totaling nearly $30 million. Winners are the Finalist candidates judged to have the strongest combination of academic skills and achievements, extracurricular accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 to conduct the National Merit Scholarship Program. The majority of National Merit Scholarships offered each year are underwritten by some 400 independent corporate and college sponsors that support NMSC’s efforts to honor the nation’s scholastically talented youth and encourage academic excellence at all levels of education.

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