La Porte High School senior Danielle Underwood has been named a National Merit Semifinalist in the 56th Annual National Merit Scholarship Program.
The names of approximately 16,000 Semifinalists were announced by officials of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation on Sept. 15. These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,400 National Merit Scholarships, worth more than $36 million, that will be offered next spring.
Danielle, the daughter of Robert and Lisa Underwood, has attended La Porte ISD schools since kindergarten. Although she has not yet made a decision as to what college she will attend, she plans on a career in medicine.
Danielle was one of around 1.5 million juniors in some 22,000 high schools who entered the 2011 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2009 Preliminary
/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (
), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, which represents less than one percent of U.S. 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 be considered for a Merit Scholarship
award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the 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
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation
, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarships are underwritten by
National Merit Scholarship Corporation
with its own funds and by approximately 450 business organizations and higher education institutions that share
's goals of honoring the nation's scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.
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
scores that confirm 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 essay and information about the Semifinalist's participation and leadership in school and community activities.
Approximately 15,000 Semifinalists are expected to advance to the Finalist level and it is
from this group that all National Merit Scholarship winners will be chosen. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin or religious preference.