STUDIO CITY—Four students from Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City were awarded the National Merit Scholarship on May 10, receiving $2500 toward their college expenses and the honorary title of “Merit Scholar.”
The scholarship process began in 2015, when more than 1.6 million high school juniors from across the country took the Preliminary SAT test (also known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), which serves as the initial screen for program entrants.
Of the one percent of applicants who scored high enough on the test to continue to the next round of competition, only 2,500 were chosen to receive the National Merit Scholarship, after being judged by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors to have the strongest combination of academic accomplishments: a barometer of success when faced with the rigorous academic coursework required at the nation’s top universities.
Ari Engelberg, Communications Director for the Harvard-Westlake School and a former alumnus himself, attributes the prevalence of so many recognized Merit Scholars at the college preparatory high school to a simple phenomenon: there are so many smart kids.
“Students are selected to come [to Harvard-Westlake] because of their academic strength,” Mr. Engelberg told Canyon News. “We have a rigorous preparatory program, where students are challenged by faculty and surrounded by smart peers encouraging each other to reach their goals.”
The four National Merit Scholars and the careers they wish to pursue are: Kamala A. Durairaj (Law), Oliver B. Friedman (Business), Brennan W. Lee (Medicine), and Kevin Wesel (Medical Research).
The non-profit National Merit Scholarship Corporation was founded in 1955 to specifically conduct the National Merit Scholarship Program with the goal of honoring scholastically talented youth and encouraging academic excellence at all levels of education.