Senior Named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist


Amy Neese

Senior Ben Stormer is among the less than one percent of the U.S. high school seniors being considered for a National Merit Scholarship

Rebekah Williams and Josh Schmitt

Last week, the National Merit Scholarship Cooperation named senior Benjamin Stormer as a semifinalist for this year’s competition for 7,600 scholarships worth more than $31 million. 

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship, applicants must fulfill several requirements that show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies. For this year’s competition, over 1.5 million students from about 21,000 high schools applied for the scholarships. The first phase of the competition was taking a preliminary SAT, in which Stormer scored a 1480 out of a possible perfect score of 1520. National Merit officials then look at each applicant’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, leadership abilities, employment and honors and awards received.

Stormer’s 104.28268 grade point average (GPA) was the highest in his junior class. He participated in UIL Current Events and Math, Chess Club, Chemistry Club, Spanish and National Honor Society, and worked part-time job at Torchy’s Tacos. After being named as a semifinalist, Stormer said he was surprised to learn that he was among the less than one percent of the U.S. high school seniors being considered for a Merit Scholarship.

“That’s neat,” Stormer said. “I didn’t know that. I’m excited. It’s a great honor to be recognized for this opportunity.”

To determine finalists, Merit officials will look at each applicant’s long-term academic success and awards, meaning that elementary and intermediate school activities are even considered. To add to Stormer’s resume, in the fourth grade, he received the Presidential Education Award stamped with President Obama’s signature upon it, and in seventh grade, he took the ACT under the Duke TIP Program that awarded him national recognition. Out of 1.5 million applicants only about 16,000 currently remain, and Stormer will learn in February if he will advance to the Finalist round. Until then, he said he is continuing on with daily life and focusing on his college plans.

“I am probably going to go the University of Texas but I am also looking at Georgia Tech, UCLA and UC Berkeley,” Stormer said. “I’ll probably major in Mechanical Engineering because you can get a lot of jobs with that degree.”