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Jason Lin, Pikeville High School senior, stands next to a plaque, which names the previous 19 National Merit Finalists from Pikeville High School. Lin was recently named a National Merit Semifinalist, and he is now in the running to become a National Merit Finalist.

National Merit Scholarship Corporation recently named a Pikeville High School senior as Pike County’s only Merit Semifinalist, further advancing him in the competition to win scholarships.

PHS student Jason Lin, of Pikeville, was named one of 16,000 National Merit Semifinalists across the country in the National Merit Scholarship Program, run through the NMSC. This spring, he will compete for a chance to become a Finalist in the competition and could win one of 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million, according to the NMSC.

PHS School Counselor Dawn Stewart described the scholarship program as being one of the most prestigious in the country.

“It’s probably the most prestigious academic honor that you can earn,” Stewart said. “The significance is the prestige of it because you know that you’re a top student in the nation and in the world. It’s a level playing field; you’re taking the same test that other students are taking in Massachusetts and in California, so you know that you’re one of the top students anywhere.”

Lin received this honor after taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) as a junior last year. The test served as an initial screen for program entrants. To become a Finalist, Lin and a high school official will submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide his academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment and honors and awards received, according to the NMSC.

Semifinalists must have an “outstanding academic record” throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official and write an essay. About 15,000 Semifinalists are expected to advance to the Finalist level. Lin will be notified in February of whether or not he will advance as a Finalist, and all competition winners will be announced in April, according to the NMSC.

Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in 2021. First, 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 to Finalists who meet specified criteria, and about 180 colleges and universities will finance about 4,100 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who attend those schools.

Lin was the only student in Pike County to receive this honor. In Eastern Kentucky, one student from Floyd Central High School and two students from Corbin High School were also named Semifinalists.

PHS Principal Jason Booher said that he and the district are excited for Lin and his accomplishments, and they are “keeping their fingers crossed” that Lin becomes a Finalist. Pikeville High School has had 19 National Merit Finalists in the competition, with the first one dating back to the 1957.

“We’re extremely proud of Jason and all that he’s accomplished so far in the classroom, and it just means a lot for Pikeville High School,” Booher said. “He’s went from first grade all the way through twelfth grade here in our school system, so it means a lot for our school system just to have one that’s named a Semifinalist.”

Lin is no stranger to academic success. As a junior, he took the ACT exam two times, and he scored a 36 composite score on both attempts, which is the highest composite score that a student can receive on the test. Although he is still looking into where he will attend college after he graduates this year, he said he is interested in the fields of computer science and mechanical engineering.

Regarding his recognition by the NMSC, Lin said that his award was a testament to his district and how well they have helped prepare him and other students for their futures.

“It’s really a testament to what we’re doing here,” Lin said. “We prepare our kids really well for college, and it just shows that we have one almost every year. It’s just really cool to be a part of that.”

To learn more about the National Merit Scholarship Program, visit, www.nationalmerit.org.

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