Rocky Fork Enterprise

National Merit Scholarship

Lincoln's Thomas, Zianni are semifinalists


Gahanna Lincoln High School's Matthew Zianni is a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist, and Kirstyn Thomas is a National Achievement Scholarship semifinalist in the 59th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Zianni is the son of Michael and Donna Zianni.

"I definitely am honored and glad to have been given this status," he said.

Zianni is a co-captain on Lincoln High School's speech and debate team. He also participates on the In the Know academic quiz team.

Zianni said he plans to study at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Yale University or Ohio State University.

"I'm looking to study anything to do with biology, working with animals and mammals -- probably zoology," he said.

Thomas is the daughter of Clendon and Karyn Thomas.

She said she hasn't decided where she wants to attend college next year, but she plans to study pre-med. Her long-term goal is to become a physician, she said.

Thomas is a four-year member of the Gahanna swim team. She's also a member of the National Honor Society, and she's a swimming instructor.

On Sept. 11, officials of National Merit Scholarship Corp. announced the names of nearly 16,000 semifinalists in the annual scholarship program.

The academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,000 National Merit Scholarships worth about $35 million that will be offered next spring.

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition.

About 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

NMSC, a nonprofit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 440 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC's goals of honoring the nation's scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.

The National Achievement Scholarship Program is an academic competition established in 1964 to provide recognition for outstanding black American high school students. Black students may enter both the National Achievement Program and the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test and meeting other published requirements for participation. The two annual programs are conducted concurrently but operated and are funded separately. A student's standing is determined independently in each program.

Black American students could qualify for recognition and be honored as scholars in both the National Merit Program and the National Achievement Program, but they may receive only one monetary award from NMSC.