Four Pickerington Local School District seniors have been named semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Corp.'s annual scholarship competition.

Pickerington High School Central seniors Aisha Ayub, Bertha Chou and Emmy Shao each have been named semifinalists for a National Merit Corp. scholarship.

Pickerington High School North senior Adam Sherry also has been named a semifinalist.

According to the National Merit Scholarship Corp. about 16,000 students -- approximately one-third of the 50,000 high-scorers who apply for a scholarship -- were selected as semifinalists.

They represent the highest scoring entrants in each state based on academic performance and achievement on college entrance exams.

By spring, the National Merit Scholarship Corp. will announce approximately 7,500 scholarship winners.

Ayub, 17, is the daughter of Hafiz and Raheela Ayub.

She is a member of the National Honor Society and her work outside of school includes serving as a research assistant in the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center's Cognitive Control Laboratory and an administrative assistant at the Noor Free Clinic.

She also is a member of OSU's Muslim Students' Association and volunteers at OhioHealth's Riverside Methodist Hospital.

Ayub said she is undecided about her plans following graduation but is considering studying neuroscience, sociology, literature or political science.

Ayub said she was surprised to learn she had been named a semifinalist.

"I actually did not know until my friend sent me a text to congratulate me," she said.

"I initially thought she meant to text someone else, but then she sent me a screenshot of PLSD's Twitter post.

"I was overcome with gratitude for the opportunity to continue in the competition."

Chou, 17, is the daughter of Jane Hu and Joel Chou.

She's involved in the Teen Ambassadors Board, French Club, National Honor Society, the Young Thinkers' Philosophy Club, Health Occupation Students Organization and Gender Identity Sexuality Alliance. She also volunteers at COSI.

Chou is considering attending Yale University and OSU, among others, she said, and hopes to study biomedical sciences and neuroscience before eventually becoming a neurosurgeon.

"I was quite taken aback. ... I was not aware until a friend had told me," Chou said of being named a semifinalist.

"Overall, I feel extremely blessed to be able to receive this opportunity, and I will work hard to advance within the application process."

Shao, 17, is the daughter of Qin Huang and Guohong Shao.

She is a member of the marching band, National Honor Society and French Club, and she volunteers at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Shao said she's undecided on a college but has applied to several art schools. She plans to study art with a focus on illustration.

She said her selection as a semifinalist was "Really surprising, especially with the other students who were selected."

Sherry, 18, is the son of Melinda and Paul Sherry.

He's a member of the North soccer team. He is considering OSU, the University of Cincinnati, Case Western Reserve University and Carnegie Mellon University.

He said he likely will study chemical or aeronautical engineering and data analytics.

Upon hearing he was a semifinalist, Sherry said he was, "Surprised. I was excited, of course."

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