By Steve Sears
Randolph High School seniors, Ibrahim Syed and Josephine Wu, were recently named 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program semi-finalists.
16,000 high-school seniors nationwide will seek scholarships that will be offered in spring 2020. Applications are submitted detailing a student’s academic record, leadership qualities, honors and awards received while in high school. Per the National Merit Scholarship Program, 90 percent of the semi-finalists will be entered in February of next year as finalists, and about half of those will win scholarships which will be announced in April.
“In September, Mr. (Charles) Dimiceli, the Director of Counseling at my school, informed me that I was a National Merit semi-finalist,” says Syed, whose favorite subject is Math. “As I understand it, semi-finalists are identified based on whether or not their PSAT scores in junior year meet the state’s cutoff.”
“I found out I was a semi-finalist by looking up the National Merit Semifinalist Cutoff score in New Jersey (they vary by state),” says Wu. “I checked the College board website and found out that I met the score cutoff! So, I already knew I was a semi-finalist by the time my guidance counselor called me down to the main office to tell me,” she adds excitedly.
Syed, who has a list of colleges that match his goals and objectives and would love to develop his passion for Science and Technology, feels a scholarship is, “ a recognition of the beautiful ecosystem (my family, teachers, counselors, and my classmates) that the Randolph community has developed over the years. This support structure nurtures, cherishes, and challenges all of us to do our best and set a strong positive example for the entire community.” He then says, “I should find out sometime between mid-December and March where I will be attending next year. I plan to major in computer science. I know that’s what I want to study, but where I take that after college is open-ended right now for me. I want to work at the intersection of multiple fields and with many different types of people, to be able to multiply the impact of the work that I want to do.”
For Wu, who has not yet chosen which college she will attend but is leaning towards thinking of maybe studying history, East Asian Studies, and public policy, the scholarship is important because “it would help in paying for my college tuition. It also symbolizes the work I put into my academics during my four years of high school,” says Wu.
Both will depart Randolph High School with a touch of sadness but gratitude as well. “These four years of high school go quickly,” attests Syed, “and we can’t miss out on all the opportunities they afford us. I would strongly encourage the freshmen, sophomores, and juniors to continue to be very engaged with the Randolph Community. We should take RHS to be the standard of academic excellence and civic leadership. I intend to do my part through the many avenues I have created for myself through honor societies and clubs. I once again want to thank all the people around me like my family, teachers, classmates, counselors, and Randolph administration for the help and guidance they have given me throughout the years.”