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Three Stamford Public Schools Graduates Named Merit Scholars

AITE’s Tanusri Balla was also named a 2016 U.S. Presidential Scholar.
AITE’s Tanusri Balla was also named a 2016 U.S. Presidential Scholar. Photo Credit: Contributed

STAMFORD, Conn. -- Students from each of Stamford's three public high schools were named 2016 Merit Scholars.

Academy of Information Technology & Engineering graduate Tanusri Balla was named a $2,500 National Merit Scholar. Balla is also a U.S. Presidential Scholar.

Stamford High School graduate Matthew Sieh and Westhill High School graduate Nicole Smina were named as college-sponsored Merit Scholars.

National Merit $2,500 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.

The number of winners in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s graduating high school seniors.

College-sponsored Merit Scholars are among the more than 800 additional winners of National Merit Scholarships that are financed by colleges and universities.

Officials of each sponsor college selected its scholarship winners from among the Finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program who will attend their institution.

College-sponsored awards provide between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at the institution financing the scholarship.

“Achieving this level of distinction is a testament to the hard work, commitment and intellect of these students,” said SPS Superintendent Earl Kim. “To have a student from each of our high schools earn this high honor is a reflection not only of the high caliber students here but also of the supportive families, dedicated staff, challenging curriculum, and commitment to excellence in all of Stamford’s schools.”

According to NMSC, all winners were chosen from a pool of more than 15,000 finalists and are considered to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in college.

The scholars are selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors.

This year’s competition for National Merit Scholarships began in October 2014 when over 1.5 million juniors in some 22,000 high schools took the Preliminary sat/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (psat/nmsqt), which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than one percent of the nation’s high school seniors, were named Semifinalists on a state-representational basis.

Only these 16,000 Semifinalists had an opportunity to continue in the competition. From the Semifinalist group, 15,000 students met the very high academic standards and other requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition.

By the conclusion of the 2016 program, about 7,500 Finalists will have earned the “Merit Scholar” title and received a total of about $33 million in college scholarships.

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