Watterson senior named National Merit finalist

Bishop Watterson High School senior Caroline A. Nickerson is among the first group of winners in the 58th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Around 1,000 high school seniors have won corporate-sponsored National Merit Scholarship awards financed by about 200 corporations, company foundations and other business organizations.

Nickerson is among local winners. She is the daughter of Julie and James Nickerson of the Worthington area.

She was awarded the National Merit Sentry Insurance Foundation Associate Dependent Scholarship. The Sentry Insurance Foundation Inc. funds the scholarship, which is for dependents of the insurance company, based in Stevens Point, Wis.

Scholars were selected from students who advanced to the finalist level in the National Merit Scholarship competition and met criteria of their scholarship sponsors. Corporate sponsors provide National Merit Scholarships for finalists who are children of their employees, who are residents of communities the company serves, or who plan to pursue college majors or careers the sponsor wishes to encourage, according to the announcement.

Most of the awards are renewable for up to four years of college undergraduate study and provide annual stipends that range from $500 to $10,000 a year. Some provide a single payment between $2,500 and $5,000.

Recipients may use their awards at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university.

Nickerson will attend the University of Kentucky, where she plans to major in physics, according to Watterson spokeswoman Colleen Mar.

"She is a national-level figure skater who competed at the 2012 National Championships and will compete at the spring invitational in Ann Arbor, Mich., in May," Mar said. "She will also perform at Skate for Hope June 15 at Nationwide Arena."

About 1.5 million juniors in some 22,000 high schools entered the 2013 National Merit Scholarship competition when they took the 2011 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screener of program entrants. In September 2012, about 16,000 semifinalists were designated on a state representational basis in numbers proportional to each state's percentage of the national total of graduating high school seniors.

Semifinalists were the highest-scoring program entrants in each state and represented fewer than 1 percent of the nation's seniors.