FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 11, 2019 – Today officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) announced the names of approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program, including St. Louis Catholic seniors and aspiring engineers Ethan Hebert and Caroline Obluda.

These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be awarded next spring.  To be considered for a Merit Scholarship Award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition.

Hebert and Obluda were two of more than 1.5 million high school juniors who entered the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NSMQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants.  The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

Caroline Obluda

Obluda said she hopes to continue to advance in the competition and perhaps earn a college scholarship along the way.  She serves on the leadership board of the St. Louis Catholic Spanish Club, is treasurer of Mu Alpha Theta, Saints ambassador, National Honor Society tutor and a leader of the ICCS middle and elementary school Engineering Club, planning and teaching lessons for the kids.

“Academics are very rigorous here at St. Louis Catholic, so it made the PSAT pretty easy in comparison,” said Obluda, whose goal is to earn a mechanical engineering degree in college.  “My mom told me it was a really big deal, so I committed to doing well.”

Hebert said becoming a Semifinalist is “humbling” not even six months after he also earned a perfect ACT score.  Like Obluda, Hebert runs for the St. Louis Catholic cross country team, and he has played on the soccer and tennis teams since 2016.  Hebert was elected Mu Alpha Theta Vice President and Student Council Class President as a

Ethan Hebert

junior, and he also earned Louisiana & Global Seals of Biliteracy in Spanish.

“I didn’t expect this at all,” said Hebert, who wants to earn a college degree in cyber engineering or computer science after graduation. “I just am so grateful to God.”

From the approximately 16,000 National Merit Semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level, and in February they will be notified of this designation.  To become a Finalist, the Semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application demonstrating their participation in school and community activities, leadership abilities, employment, and awards & honors received.  A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® or ACT® scores that confirm his or her earlier performance on the qualifying test.

All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of Finalists.  Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin or religious preference.