Two Pickerington high school seniors recently were named semifinalists for National Merit Scholarships, while another two remain in the running for National Achievement Scholarships.
Seetha Kolli, a senior at Pickerington High School Central, and Alex Sherry, a senior at Pickerington High School North, each are among some 16,000 U.S. students selected as National Merit Scholarship semifinalists.
The two were selected after taking the Preliminary SAT/ National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test -- a test that serves as an initial screening of approximately 1.5-million entrants each year -- and by meeting published program entry/participation requirements.
Semifinalists are the highest-scoring entrants in each state, and they remain in the running for $2,500 National Merit college scholarship.
Additionally, North senior Reginald McBride-Taylor and Central senior Aisha Sharif both have been named National Achievement Scholarship semifinalists.
The National Achievement Scholarship program is conducted by the National Merit Scholarship Corp.
It is a privately funded academic competition initiated in 1964 to recognize academically promising black students throughout the nation and to provide scholarships to the most outstanding program participants.
McBride-Taylor and Sharif now have an opportunity to continue in the competition for approximately 800 Achievement Scholarships, each worth $2,500.
Kolli, 16, is the daughter of Susmitha and Srini Kolli, and listed her favorite classes as AP chemistry and AP physics.
She's a member of Central's National Honor Society, Science Olympiad and Spanish Club, and she competes in gymnastics outside of school.
"After receiving my scores in the winter I was hopeful that I would qualify as a semifinalist, but I was still very surprised and honored when I found out it had actually happened," Kolli said.
"I hope to be a National Merit Scholarship recipient because it would be an amazing opportunity and an honor to be considered highly enough to receive a National Merit Scholarship, as well as be recognized for all my hard work."
Kolli said she will apply to Brown University, Caltech, MIT, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, the University of Michigan and Ohio State University, and she's tentatively planning to study mechanical engineering.
Sherry, 18, is the son of Paul and Melinda Sherry. His favorite class is AP calculus.
A member of North's National Honor Society, Sherry also is involved in student council, Sunny Side Up and is a member of the North boys swimming team.
"I was very excited and was partially in disbelief as it seemed almost too good to be true," he said of being named a National Merit semifinalist.
"I didn't know what Mr. Gill needed me for when he pulled me out of class, but when he and Mrs. Hunt told me, I couldn't keep the smile off my face for the rest of the day."
Sherry said he hopes to obtain a National Merit Scholarship because, "It is one of the highest honors possible for high school students and opens up many more opportunities to me for my future."
He currently is considering applying to OSU, Miami University, Case Western Reserve University, the University of Pittsburgh, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago and Michigan. He said he hopes to study mathematics or economics.
McBride-Taylor, 17, is the son of Mia McBride and Reginald Taylor. He listed his favorite class as calculus.
A member of North's Chemistry Club, he also is active in the school's In The Know and Spanish clubs.
"I was extremely surprised and, frankly, very honored," McBride-Taylor said of being a National Achievement Scholarship semifinalist.
"I hope to be a recipient due to the fact that the award is a very serious academic achievement.
"Also, with the current price of education, every penny helps."
McBride-Taylor said he hopes to attend the University of Cambridge, ETH Zurich or OSU. He plans to pursue degrees in theoretical physics and mathematics.
Sharif, 17, is the daughter of Mahbubur and Faith Sharif, and her favorite class is AP government.
At Central, she runs cross country, performs in chorale, is president of Key Club, student council vice president of her class and is involved in mock trial.
She also serves on both Central's Principal's Academic Advisory and the Pickerington Local School District Superintendent Advisory committees.
"I was absolutely ecstatic to be named National Achievement Scholarship semifinalist," Sharif said.
"I have aspired to be a finalist in the competition since I first learned about it in junior high school, and I am thrilled to find myself on that path," she said.
"I feel so blessed to have been given this wonderful opportunity.
"I aspire to be a National Achievement Scholarship recipient because it is such an honor to receive the scholarship, and it would help fund my education significantly," Sharif said.
"Education is one of the most important things to me and receiving this scholarship would honestly mean the world to me."
Sharif said she will apply to several universities, including Stanford, Yale, Columbia, Georgetown and Harvard.
She plans to study international politics.