National Merit Scholarship Students are Named

HIGHLAND – Two Highland High School (HHS) students—seniors Minh Tran and IshaniBansal- were named finalists by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) for the National Merit Scholarship, a prestigious award given to the nation’s top students.

Tran is the son of Tuyen Nguyen and Phong Tran of Highland. Bansal is the daughter of Lily and SandeepBansal, also of Highland.

“To have two students become finalists is rare,” said school counselor Heather Bragg. “Since the road to becoming a finalist is a rigorous one, getting to that point is a really big deal,” she said.

Students who are U.S. citizens, who plan to go to college, and who take the Preliminary SATs (PSAT) in October of their junior year are eligible to receive National Merit distinctions and scholarships through the program. The NMSC uses its own Selection Index to evaluate student scores in the math, reading, and writing sections of the test. Students are compared on a state-to-state basis, and New York has the second highest score cut-off in the country, making it even more challenging.

In New York, an eligible student must have a score of 221 on the Selection Index—both Bansal and Tran scored above that.From the pool of about 15,000 finalists, only 2,500 students will be chosen for the Merit Scholarship based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments.

Tran and Bansal are exceptional inside and outside of school. Both are members of the National Honor Society and are interested in careers in medicine. Tran did research on cancer at the University of Maryland and “shadowed” doctors at Vassar Hospital, and Bansal did pharmaceutical research in Tarrytown, NY. As far as where to pursue their medical studies, Tran is eyeing Johns Hopkins University and SUNY Upstate Medical University, and Bansal is looking at SUNY Stony Brook and the University of Pennsylvania.

Highland High School Principal William Zimmer was very excited to hear the news that Mr. Tran and Ms. Bansal have become finalists. “This is a marvelous achievement, and our entire school community is proud of their accomplishments,” he said.

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