Quinn Divers: Brashier’s First National Merit Scholar Finalist

Quinn Divers with her National Merit Scholarship Certification (Photo by Angela Coppola).

Quinn Divers with her National Merit Scholarship Certification (Photo by Angela Coppola).

Each year, sophomores are given the chance to take the PSAT, a preliminary test for the SAT, which they will have to take during their junior year. In this context, choosing to take the PSAT may not be significant, but in the following year, it could lead to a golden opportunity– qualifying for the National Merit Scholarship.

“A National Merit Scholar Finalist is someone who has taken the PSAT their junior year, scored above the qualifying score for their state to be named [as a] semi-finalist, and then completed the application and essay to be a finalist,” explains Brashier’s first NMS Finalist, Quinn Divers.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation was established in 1955 and has since made it their goal to recognize academically gifted students and award them with scholarships. This becomes very significant as a student prepares for the college application process.

“[Being a] National Merit [Scholar Finalist] is a big deal and opens a lot of doors for college acceptances and extra merit scholarships. It made my resume more impressive,” says Divers.

On the surface, the process may seem relatively simple since one only thinks to aim for a stellar score on the PSAT. However, becoming a finalist requires more effort.

“The next September [after taking the PSAT], qualifying scores are announced for semi-finalists, and a book with the name of every semi-finalist is mailed to principals who are responsible for notifying their students. All semi-finalists then fill out an application, which is very similar to a typical college application, with one essay. The application is due in October, and about 15,000 finalists are named in February throughout the nation,” informs Divers.

Though some may think that scholarship money is the only reward this title entails, being a National Merit Scholar Finalist also holds a prize just as valuable: recognition from universities who have their radars set on students just like Quinn.

“The reason I took the PSAT junior year was to see if I could receive this award. I aimed for it because it provides so much scholarship money, and you always hear about the student debt problem in the nation…As a National Merit Scholar Finalist, I have multiple schools offering me full rides,” says Divers.

Divers further explains the perks of this award by expanding on what a National Merit Scholar Finalist may benefit from at certain colleges, such as the University of Alabama.

“The University of Alabama gives NMFs full tuition for five years, room and board, [the opportunity to] study abroad, and technology stipends. Many schools give some money for NMFs, and scholarship money can make a difference in what university a student attends,” informs Divers.

Being able to accept such a prestigious award is no doubt an asset any student would want to have, but one should not be discouraged if he or she is not able to achieve this accolade. Students should always be confident in themselves and pursue skills and talents of their forte.

“I think that [this] is an amazing achievement, but students need to realize that these [awards] are rare, and, just because someone doesn’t qualify for an award like this, it doesn’t mean they’re dumb or won’t get into the college of their choice. For example, I am the only Brashier student to ever receive this honor, but I know students who are just as talented and intelligent, if not more, who didn’t receive [this award]. Students should try attaining it, but not be discouraged if they don’t receive it,” states Divers.