Lela Connors: National Merit Scholar: by Eve Brown-Ryder

It was announced in March 2020 that Lela Connors, a Memorial senior, was one of the roughly 7,500 students across America to earn a National Merit Scholarship award based on the PSAT/NMSQT she took last year. This award is granted to those students who take the test in their junior year of high school and earn a certain score. If they achieve that score, they have the potential to become a Semifinalist, or a Commended Student if they do not quite make the cut. From there, Semifinalists can fill out an application to become a finalist. The National Merit Scholars are selected from these Finalists and earn a $2,500 college scholarship.

Lela Connors’ brother was a Commended Student two years ago. “Therefore, my initial goal was to at least become a Commended Student as well. I never thought that I would become a National Merit Scholar and earn the scholarship, so that was a very pleasant surprise.” Although the above process seems rather extensive, it was pretty simple in Connors’ experience. She thought that the most difficult parts were taking the PSAT itself and filling out the Finalist application. While the above aspects may have been most difficult, she said that “waiting is probably the worst part as you are notified of your status as a National Merit Semifinalist a year after you take the PSAT/NMSQT.”

The National Merit Scholarship has its intrinsic monetary reward, but it does not stop there. 

“Besides the $2,500 scholarship,” Connors explained, “many colleges across the country offer specific merit scholarships for National Merit Scholars. The college that I chose to attend next fall, The University of Alabama, is one of those colleges. Therefore, this designation as a National Merit Scholar has enabled me to receive nearly a full ride… In a world that is so economically uncertain at the moment, this significant amount of scholarship money is certainly comforting.”

Congratulations, Lela, Memorial is so proud of you!

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