Caitlin van Zyl named National Merit Scholar

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A distinguished Fayette County high school senior has been selected to receive a National Merit Scholarship from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

Caitlin van Zyl of McIntosh High is one of 7,600 students nationwide named a Merit Scholar and selected to receive a $2,500 National Merit Scholarship. Scholarship designees are chosen from a talent pool of more than 15,000 outstanding finalists, representing less than one percent of the nation’s high school seniors. Winners are judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

Scholars can use their award at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university, and for any course of study. Van Zyl plans to study biomedical engineering.

The scholarship competition starts in the junior year of high school when students take the preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which serves as an initial screen of program entrants. The highest-scoring participants in each state are named semifinalists. Only the semifinalists have the opportunity to continue in the competition. Finalists are chosen based on their academic record, including the difficulty of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from two standardized tests; contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the finalist; and a recommendation written by a high school official.