National Merit&#168 Scholarship winners named

National Merit¨ Scholarship winners named The names of 2,500 distinguished high school seniors who have won National Merit $2,500 Scholarships were announced May 1 by officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).

Among the nine merit scholarship recipients in South Dakota is Dan Ring, a senior at Vermillion High School. Ring's $2,500 scholarship is sponsored by the National Distillers Distributors Foundation. This foundation is supported by over 100 independent distributors of National Distillers products, and in its fourth decade of educational philanthropy, offers deserving students enhanced opportunity through higher education.

These outstanding young men and women were chosen from a talent pool of approximately 15,000 academically able finalists in the 2002 National Merit Scholarship Program. "Merit ScholarSM designees named today are the finalists judged to have the greatest potential for success in rigorous college studies," said an NMSC spokesperson. "The nation will benefit from the further development of this valuable intellectual resource."

Winners of National Merit $2,500 Scholarships are named in every state, in numbers based on the state's percentage of the national total of graduating seniors. Every finalist was considered for one of these awards by a selection committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors who appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by finalists and their high schools.

Committee members evaluated each finalist's academic record, including difficulty level of course work and subjects studied; scores from two standardized tests; contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay describing interests and goals; and the recommendation written by a high school official.

NMSC is underwriting about 90 percent of the single-payment National Merit $2,500 Scholarships with its own funds. Company and business sponsors in the Merit Program are supporting the remainder of the awards.

The competition for Merit Scholarship¨ awards being offered this spring began when more than 1.2 million juniors in over 20,000 U.S. high schools took the 2000 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT¨), which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

In September 2001, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than 1 percent of the state's seniors, were named semifinalists on a state representational basis. Only these 16,000 semifinalists had an opportunity to continue in the competition.

Approximately 90 percent of the semifinalists met the very high academic standards and other requirements to advance to the finalist level, and it is from this distinguished group that all Merit Scholarship winners are being chosen. At the conclusion of the 2002 competition, more than 7,600 Merit Scholar designees will have won Merit Scholarship awards worth about $30 million for college undergraduate study.

Established in 1955 to conduct the annual Merit Program scholarship competition, NMSC is a not-for-profit corporation that operates without government assistance. The majority of scholarships offered each year are underwritten by approximately 550 independent sponsor organizations and institutions that join NMSC in its efforts to honor scholastically talented youth and provide educational opportunities for them as they continue their pursuit of academic excellence.

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