Three Pickerington high school students remain in the running for college scholarships provided by National Merit Scholarship Corp.
Pickerington High School North senior Alex Sherry and Pickerington High School Central senior Seetha Kolli each recently were named National Merit Scholarship finalists.
Additionally, Central senior Aisha Sharif has been selected as a finalist for a National Achievement Scholarship.
After an initial pool of approximately 1.5 million applicants was whittled to 16,000 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists last fall, Sherry and Kolli earlier this month were notified they're among 15,000 U.S. students still in the running for $2,500 scholarships.
By mid-June, the National Merit Scholarship Corp. is expected to award the scholarships to about 8,000 students, based on ACT and/or SAT scores, academic records, leadership, involvement in student activities and written recommendations from their school officials.
Sherry, the son of Paul and Melinda Sherry, is a member of North's National Honor Society and is involved in student council and Sunny Side Up. He also is a member of the North boys swimming team.
He's considering attending Ohio State University, as well as the universities of Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. Sherry said he plans to study mathematics or economics.
"I plan on studying in one of these fields because they are both things that really interest me," Sherry said. "One career that I am considering is data analysis in sports."
Sherry said he's enjoying his final year of high school, particularly his involvement in recreational basketball.
He also credited his teachers with preparing him to move on after graduation, and said he was "honored and excited" to be considered for a National Merit scholarship.
"Pickerington North has been crucial in preparing me for college," Sherry said. "I have had numerous teachers who each contributed something important and unique to my education.
"My peers have been equally important to my education, helping me grow scholastically and as a person."
Kolli is the daughter of Susmitha and Srini Kolli, and is a member of Central's National Honor Society, Science Olympiad and Spanish Club, and she competes in gymnastics outside of school.
After graduation, she plans to study mechanical engineering, and has been accepted to enroll at OSU.
She's also considering the universities of Michigan and Pennsylvania, as well as the California Institute of Technology and Cornell, Brown and Columbia universities.
"I want to be a mechanical engineer because I enjoy physics and math, and I love building things and trying to figure out how things work," Kolli said.
Kolli also said she's soaking in the waning days of her high school career, and believes she's been well prepared for college.
"The classes are tough, but (Central) teachers and staff are always willing to go the extra mile to help you succeed," Kolli said. "There is a real sense of community that always makes you feel at home and be your best.
"I'm very excited and feel very honored to be given this opportunity, and I am so grateful for my family, teachers and all the other people who have helped me get this far.
Sharif also remains in the running for a $2,500 scholarship.
As a National Achievement Scholarship finalist, she is one of just 1,300 high school seniors still in the running to be recognized by National Merit Scholarship Corp. as one of the nation's most promising African-American students.
Ultimately, 800 scholarships will be awarded from an initial pool of 160,000 students.
"I am ecstatic to be named a National Achievement finalist," Sharif said. "It has been a dream of mine since junior high school to be a part of the National Merit program.
"I feel extremely blessed to have received such an award. I can't even convey my excitement."
Sharif is the daughter of Mahbubur and Faith Sharif.
At Central, she runs cross country, performs in chorale, is president of Key Club, vice president of her class through student council 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.
Sharif said her senior year has been "fantastic," noting her mock trial team was set to compete at regionals on Tuesday, Feb. 25.
She also was crowned Central's homecoming queen last fall, and last week took part in a Junior State of America conference in Washington, D.C.
After high school, Sharif plans to study political science or international relations at either Columbia, Harvard, Miami University, University of North Carolina, Northwestern, OSU, Rice, Stanford or Yale.
"I would like to go to law school and pursue a career in the legal field after my undergrad education," she said.
"I am very passionate about helping others, and I believe that pursuing a career in the judicial field would be a perfect avenue to explore that passion," Shariff said.
"I also believe that a global understanding is crucial for society to thrive. So, I believe that international relations is an important field."