National Merit Scholar chosen

Sandy Hull
Eugene "Geno" Herges, left, and Robert Reagan, right, congratulate Bill Burklund on being named a semifinalist in the 2009 National Merit® Scholarship Program. Burklund is a senior at Cambridge High School and son of Marilyn Burklund. Herges is the high school guidance counselor and Reagan is the principal of the school.

    Bill Burklund, a senior at Cambridge High School and son of Marilyn Burklund, is a semifinalist in the 2009 National Merit® Scholarship Program.

    “Burklund is only the second Cambridge High School student to ever receive this honor,” stated Eugene Herges, Cambridge High School guidance counselor. “We (the school) are very proud of him.”

    Burklund has an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,200 National Merit® Scholarships, worth more than $25 million, that will be offered next spring. To be considered for the award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of competition. About 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and approximately half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title.

    National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Program. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC’s own funds and approximately 500 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.

    More than 1.5 million juniors in over 21,000 high schools entered the 2009 National Merit Program by taking the 2007 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, which represent less than one percent of United States high school seniors, includes the highest scoring entrants in each state. The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

    To become a finalist, a semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by the high school principal and earn SAT scores that confirms the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test. The semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, which includes the student’s self-descriptive essay and information about the semifinalist’s participation and leadership in school and community activities.

    Three types of National Merit Scholarship awards will be offered in the spring of 2009. Every finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state representational basis. About 1,100 corporate-sponsored scholarships will be provided by some 300 corporations and business organizations for finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plans or offices are located. In addition, approximately 200 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,600 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.

    National Merit Scholarship winners of 2009 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July.