Two Hopkins seniors named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

Seniors Dominic Valentini and Sam Dirkswager are two of 16,000 high school students throughout the country vying for a National Merit Scholarship.
September 15, 2020

Seniors Dominic Valentini and Sam Dirkswager are among a prestigious group of students named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists. They are two of about 16,000 semifinalists in the scholarship program this year. 

“When I first heard that I was a semi-finalist, I felt really relieved because it was a long time between the test and the results, and I was really happy that all the work I had done finally paid off,” Valentini said.

Outside of Valentini's academic record, he plays hockey and golf, is part of the HopCares club, and plays the piano. Valentini plans to attend college after graduation where he would like to study either economics or something math related. 

In addition to Dirkswager’s academic record, he plays the oboe in band and the clarinet in the Hopkins pep band. He is also working on creating a programming language and learning Finnish. He plans to attend college after graduation and pursue a career in artificial intelligence.

To be considered for the National Merit Scholarship, students in their junior year must take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which serves as the initial screening of program entrants. Students must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, complete an essay, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier PSAT/NMSQT scores.

Out of nearly 16,000 semifinalists, approximately 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalist stage. If Valentini and Dirkswager are selected as finalists, they will be notified in February. Recipients of the National Merit Scholarship will be named in spring 2021.

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