Eight Weston students now belong to a very elite club, joining the likes of former Microsoft Corporation Chairman Bill Gates, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Elena Kagan, Amazon Chairman and CEO Jeff Bezos, and Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan as National Merit Scholars. These Class of 2019 graduates from Weston are among 7,600 distinguished high school graduates who have won National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million.
Four students were named National Merit $2500 Scholarship winners: Cypress Bay High School graduate Viraj Maddur, NSU University School graduate Skylar Ronkin, Pine Crest School graduate Lauren Fromkin, and homeschooled student Sofia del Rio.
There were 2,500 Merit Scholar designees nationwide chosen from a talent pool of more than 15,000 outstanding Finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program. National Merit $2500 Scholarship winners are the Finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies.
In addition, four Weston students received college-sponsored National Merit Scholarships. These awards provide recipients between $500 and $2000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at the institution financing the scholarship. Cypress Bay graduates Teresa Castano and Karaline Xia both received National Merit University of Florida Scholarships. Santiago Cadena, who attended Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School, received a National Merit University of Central Florida Scholarship. American Heritage School graduate Abdur-Rahman Dania received a National Merit University of Miami Scholarship. About 4,100 students nationwide received college-sponsored National Merit Scholarships, which were presented by 173 institutions of higher education.
The 2019 National Merit Scholarship program began in October 2017 when more than 1.6 million juniors from approximately 22,000 high schools took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as the preliminary screen of program entrants. Last fall, the highest-scoring students in each state, representing less than one percent of the nation’s high school seniors, were named Semifinalists. About 15,000 students met the high academic standards and other requirements needed to advance to the Finalist level of the competition.
The Scholars were evaluated based on academic record, including difficulty of subjects studied and grades earned, scores from two standardized exams, and contributions and leadership in school and community activities. Students also had to submit an essay and be endorsed and recommended by a high school official. In 2019, about 7,600 Finalists earned the prestigious Merit Scholar title and received a college scholarship.