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National Merit Scholar, Finalists
Laine Williams

Ahad Bashir was one of only 35 students in the state of Alabama to be awarded a $2,500 National Merit Scholarship. Sameer Sultan was also awarded a college-sponsored Merit Scholarship through Ascension.

Earlier this spring, Ahad, Sameer, Shawn Goyal and Wilson Tynes were distinguished as National Merit Finalists.

Merit Scholar designees were chosen from a talent pool of more than 15,000 outstanding Finalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program. 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 named in each state is proportional to the state's percentage of graduating high school seniors. These Scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors, who appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by both the Finalists and their high schools: the academic record, including difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®); contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the Finalist; and a recommendation written by a high school official.

This year's National Merit Scholarship Program began in October 2018 when over 1.5 million juniors in approximately 21,000 high schools took the PSAT/NMSQT®, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than 1% 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, some 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 2020 program, about 7,600 Finalists will have earned the "Merit Scholar" title and received a total of over $30 million in college scholarships.

Congratulations Ahad, Sameer, Shawn and Wilson! We are proud of you.

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