Ten State College Area High School seniors are among the nation’s 16,000 National Merit Scholarship finalists.
About 1.5 million students in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.
These students represent the highest-scoring entrants in each state and represent less than 1 percent of each state’s high school seniors. The honor of being named a finalist is based on PSAT/NMSQT results, academic record, an application essay, and recommendations by teachers, school counselors, and/or learning enrichment-gifted teachers.
These students then continue to be considered for about 8,300 National Merit corporate and college-sponsored scholarships to be awarded throughout this spring and summer:
• Nathan Arnett, a son of Peter and Melissa Arnett, will be attending the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State in the fall, where he intends to major in biochemistry and molecular biology. He is captain of the State High Quiz Bowl Team, vice president of the State High Debate Team, and member of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in State College. This spring, he will compete in the NAQT High School Championship in Atlanta, and at the NFL National Tournament in Public Forum in Tuscaloosa, Ala. In his spare time he enjoys playing squash and reading.
• Michael Betts is a son of Rick and Beth Betts, of Lemont. He is a member of the Knowledge Masters Quiz Bowl team and recently earned Cisco networking technician certification. He also enjoys participating in men’s choir and Math Club. He will major in electrical engineering and plans to attend the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State this fall.
• Sam Bollinger is a son of Wendy and Marty Bollinger, of State College. He plans to attend the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State where he will be majoring in biomedical engineering. He then intends to attend either medical school or graduate school and either become a physician (preferably an oncologist) or work at the university level. His most meaningful activity in which he has participated in high school has been soccer. He served as junior varsity captain his sophomore year and varsity captain his senior year.
• Jingyi Jiang, a daughter of Weihong Kong and Dongsheng Jiang, of State College, is co-captain of State High’s Science Olympiad team and part of the State College Chinese Alliance Church youth group. She loves running and is on the State High outdoor track team. Jingyi plans to pursue her interest in biology at the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State as a Braddock Scholar this fall.
• Elizabeth Larson, a daughter of Daniel and Tanya Larson, of State College, has been a varsity equestrian athlete for the past three years. She plays bass in several State High ensembles and has advanced to All-State Orchestra each of the past two years. In the fall, she will attend the University of Virginia as an Echols Scholar majoring in mathematics with a minor in English or music.
• Charis Lin, a daughter of David and Yu-May Lin, of State College, is the principal cellist of the Central Pennsylvania Youth Orchestra and State High orchestras. She has placed well in various regional and state orchestra festivals, attended the NAfME All-Eastern Honors Orchestra, and won first place in the Ann Keller Concerto Competition in November. She also loves math and science and will major in engineering at Cornell University.
• Kevin Paroda, a son of Diane and Randy Paroda, of State College, has been a middle blocker on the boys volleyball team at State High for four years. In his free time he enjoys playing beach volleyball, disc golfing and reading. He is also a violinist in the State High orchestra and plans on pursuing a bioengineering degree at Penn State this fall.
• Amanda Reese, a daughter of Joseph and Deborah Reese, of State College, will be attending Schreyer Honors College at Penn State in the fall as a Braddock Scholar majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology. Her most meaningful high school activities were participating in State High’s forensics team where she was the secretary and speech captain, and doing biomedical research in a lab at Penn State.
• Erlfang “Eleanor” Tsai, is a daughter of Wenpin and Juichi Tsai, of State College. She will be attending the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State this fall and plans to double major in economics and political science, and possibly minor in French. One of her most meaningful extracurricular activities is music. She has been a dedicated flute player in the Central Pennsylvania Youth Orchestra, Nittany Valley Symphony Youth Flute Choir, and various other ensembles. Additionally, she has been passionate about service both locally and abroad, interning at the United Nations Association of Centre County and leading student fundraising for the charity SOS Villages at State High.
• Akhil Upneja, a son of Anu and Arun Upneja, of State College, is the captain of the State High debate team. Active for four years, he recently qualified for the national debate tournament in Alabama. In addition, he has qualified twice for the Pennsylvania Music Educators’ Association All-State Orchestra as a violinist. This past summer, he participated in a Research Experience for Undergraduates in the math department at Penn State, writing a solo-authored research paper. He plans on attending Yale University this fall, majoring in molecular biophysics and biochemistry.
Commended Students in the 2013 National Merit Program:
• Nikhil R. Ananth
• Sarah Bevilacqua
• Steven A. Bradt
• Grace M. Benner
• Benjamin J. Berkman
• Jacob Cordell
• Ysabelle J. Coutu
• James Cunningham
• Kayla E. Czekaj
• Tatum D. Del Bosco
• Sachira Denagamage
• Joseph G. Denby
• Sarah Dillon-Fast
• Brittany L. Farnsworth
• Kevin P. Fenchak
• Connor J. Henderson
• Alexander V. Hillsley
• Jessica Hovingh
• Nathaniel G. Hromnak
• Stefan D. Pelikan
• Kyle D. Poorman
• Bilyana M. Tzolova
• Yawen Wang
• Madison J. Weidel
• Maya E. Wistar
• Mei Yang
• Kieryn N. Ziegler