Three dedicated students at the Owatonna High School have received outstanding recognition for their academic strength and success throughout their high school education. The United States Academic Scholarship Program, known as the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), has elected these few to receive national recognition. Seniors Greta Jacobson, Brett Ruiter and Bryce Knutson have all earned this honor.
The NMSC is a non-profit privately funded organization that reaches out to students around the nation giving them the opportunity to win scholarships for future education. One of those past scholars was Mrs. Parks, English teacher here at Owatonna High school. Mrs. Parks said, “The National Merit scholarship allowed me to receive a couple thousand dollars each year I attended school. It ended up being about eight every year. Also, if I would have chose to attend Concordia College or Iowa State University, I would’ve had a full ride for both.” The NMSC starts by selecting potential candidates from high schools all around the nation when students take the PSAT in either during their junior or senior year. The PSAT stands for Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test which helps students to prepare for taking future tests, such as the SAT. Greta Jacobson said, “Receiving this award helps tell college and scholarship committees that I care strongly about my academics. Taking the PSAT was definitely worth it.” Now these three seniors have more opportunities that could approach them very soon.
Each year about 16,000 juniors and seniors are selected to be in the running for the national merit scholarship based on the PSAT. After judging and reviewing, done by loyal sponsors, the organization decides who will move on to another round closer to the scholarship. The winning selection is based off of abilities, skills and past accomplishments in which about 7,500 students win. Often times students have to write an essay summiting them past this section. Students that are selected receive the opportunity of being awarded a $2,500 scholarship which can be renewed each year in college.
These finalists have the opportunity to be commended by a college, which allows them a greater opportunity receiving scholarships or a potential full ride. Bryce Knutson, one of the scholars said, “This has been a goal of mine because I was aware of the opportunities it opened up for me. I strived to try my best over these past couple of years, and it was worth it.“ The seniors now look forward to seeing what colleges will offer for them in the upcoming fall.
NMSC’s mission is to promote scholastic excellence and to recognize students who exemplify their standards. Brett Ruiter said, “Instead of seeing school as something you are obligated to do it’s easier to just enjoy it. I think my dedication and trying hard within my academics is what helped me to achieve commended. The competition is very rigorous and is cut pretty thin, but it is definitely worth all the hard work.” Over the summer, OHS will find out if there are more National Merit Scholars for next year. Sophomores will take the PSAT next fall.