Three students from Hilliard Davidson High School are among the approximately 16,000 high school students named as semifinalists in the 58th annual National Merit Scholarship program.

Three students from Hilliard Davidson High School are among the approximately 16,000 high school students named as semifinalists in the 58th annual National Merit Scholarship program.

Monica Ambrose, Matthias Heinz and Mubasil Shamim were notified of the honor earlier this month.

All three have charted a career path and have selected preferred colleges and universities.

Ambrose, 17, desires to create, design and produce video games.

"I won't make girlie games, though," Ambrose said.

Ambrose prefers video games with detailed plots and science-fiction themes or elements of magic, such as Final Fantasy or The Elder Scrolls series of games, or "platform games" such as Mario Brothers.

"I was critical of a lot of the games I played; there were things I thought that could be done better," said Ambrose, whose sister encouraged her to pursue video-game programming.

Ambrose said being a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist is a "surreal experience," as she typically does not win awards and has been content to remain relatively obscure while excelling in her pursuits.

Ambrose is also a member of Davidson's marching band and was a member of the school's culinary club during its brief existence.

She will attend the Rochester Institute of Technology because of its reputation in the arena of video game design and development.

Heinz, 16, plans to study chemistry with the intent to become a professor and conduct research in an academic setting.

But he plans to do much more than study atoms and valence electrons; the kind of research Heinz envisions is the kind of work that occurs at CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research) and is the subject of Dan Brown novels.

The design, creation and application of carbon nanotubes, or CNTs, are among the things that intrigue him.

"There needs to be an eco-friendly development (of CNTs)," said Heinz, whose father is a physics professor. "Organic chemistry, the behavior of particles and research at the subatomic level interests me the most."

Or "the cool stuff," as Ambrose termed it while all three shared stories of their academic success and aspirations.

Heinz plans to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Shamim, 17, plans to study medicine and surgery with an emphasis on robotic medicine, a growing area of study in which robots, computers and other machinery are manipulated to perform basic procedures such as appendectomies and complicated brain surgeries.

Like Heinz, Shamim is following a path similar to his father, a physician.

"I wanted a career with immediate results and the ability to help people," Shamim said.

Shamim said while he will learn how to be a traditional surgeon, his goal is to focus on biomedical engineering and its application through robotics.

"It's a diverse field with a lot of options for the future," he said.

Shamim plans to attend Stanford University or Johns Hopkins University.

John Bandow, principal of Davidson High School, praised the semifinalists.

"Congratulations to our National Merit semifinalists for their recent selection into such prestigious company," he said. "Our entire staff is proud of this significant accomplishment."

The National Merit Scholarship program is an academic competition that began in 1955. High school students enter by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Semifinalists are the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

The semifinalists can submit applications to be considered for 2,500 scholarships valued at $2,500. Other corporate-sponsored scholarships are available to 1,000 students who meet specified criteria, and another 4,900 college-sponsored scholarships are available through 200 colleges and universities, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corp.

Finalists will be announced in the spring.

Darby High School also had three National Merit semifinalists. They will featured in an upcoming story in This Week Hilliard Northwest News.