By Jeff Harrison
Two local high school seniors qualified as semifinalists for the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program.
Aidan Foreman and Xavier Williams earned the honor after finishing with among the top scores on the PSAT last year. About 1.5 million students took the exam and the top 16,000 were named semifinalists.
Foreman is a senior at Midwest City High School.
Foreman took the PSAT last fall and felt confident that he would qualify for the scholarship program. He received confirmation this week when a school counselor called with the news.
“I could hear them cheering in the background and it felt pretty cool,” Foreman said.
Foreman is the third member of his family to be recognized in the National Merit Scholarship program. His brother Aaron was a finalist in 2016 and his sister Danica was a National Achievement Scholar in 2012.
“I felt a little pressure before to become a National Merit Scholar, but eventually I relaxed and realized that even if I didn’t make it, no one would be disappointed in me,” he said.
Foreman said he will likely attend the University of Oklahoma where his older siblings also attended. He is considering majoring in computer science or astronomy. His brother is currently in graduate school for computer engineering.
Foreman is finishing his senior year through the virtual academy which is entirely online.
“It’s been easier this year because I can pace myself and can work ahead when I want to,” Foreman said.
Foreman has also participated in cross country, tennis, band, National Honors Society and Key Club.
Williams is a senior at Carl Albert High School. He learned of his selection to the program this summer from a teacher.
“I was really stoked when I found out because my family does not have a lot of money for me to go to college and this will help me get there,” Williams said.
Williams took the PSAT in October and scored 1480 out of a possible 1520 points.
He hopes to attend the University of Oklahoma and study computer science. The university offers generous scholarships to students in the National Merit program.
“OU was really my number one choice and they have great support for the National Merit Scholarship program,” he said.
Williams is active in band at Carl Albert. He plays trump in concert, marching and jazz bands at the school.
“I love the creation of music and everyone playing together,” he said.
He also regularly volunteers at food banks and is involved with National Honors Society and Key Club.
To become a finalist, semifinalists and an official from their high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, including information on the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received.
A finalist, according to the National Merit Scholarship Program, must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school and write an essay, among other factors.
Finalists will compete for $2,500 scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship program as well as corporate and college-sponsored awards. Winners will be announced beginning in April.
About 90 percent of the semifinalists will be named a finalist. About half of those finalists will earn a scholarship. The program will grant more than $31 million to about 7,600 students nationwide.