Senior Sophia Patterson of Sewanee, Tenn. was recently named a Finalist in the 2019 National Merit® Scholarship Program (NMSC) and is under consideration for one of 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million.
Sophia is a High Honors student and has been the recipient of multiple academic awards in Latin, math, and English over her career at SAS. The Ethics Bowl team she started at school recently won the state championship and is headed to national competition in April. She is a cross country, swimming, and track athlete. She was one of nine SAS swimmers to qualify for regional competition this year and is a multi-year recipient of the Cross Country Coaches' Award. She has also served in multiple leadership roles and is currently a Proctor and a member of the Honor Council, two of the school’s most respected leadership positions. In addition to taking a rigorous course load at SAS, Sophia has taken numerous courses at the University of the South through a special arrangement that allows SAS juniors and seniors to take college course for free and for credit at the university. She is currently enrolled in American Government and Politics and Writing and Speaking French. Sophia is the daughter of Mr. Neil Patterson, a computer lab assistant in the Franklin County Schools, and Dr. Amy Patterson, a professor at the University of the South.
Over 1.6 million juniors in about 22,000 high schools entered the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2017 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, included the highest scoring entrants in each state. To become a Finalist, Sophia and SAS submitted a detailed scholarship application, in which they provided information about the Sophia’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. To become a Finalist a Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.
From the approximately 16,000 Semifinalists, about 15,000 advanced to the Finalist level. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from the group of Finalists. 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.
Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit® $2500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state-representational basis. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 230 corporations and business organizations for Finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. And, about 180 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,000 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution. National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced later this year.