Three students from Bryan-College Station have received college-sponsored scholarships through the National Merit Scholarship program.
Isabella Garza and Roger Wang from A&M Consolidated High School received scholarships from Texas A&M University, while Samuel Sottile from Allen Academy received an award from Michigan State University.
All three went through the same process of taking the PSAT standardized test in their junior year before being named National Merit semifinalists and then finalists. Each semifinalist was given an application to complete before being considered a finalist, and the trio found out in February they were officially finalists.
“Once I received the news that I had become a finalist, I was elated,” Garza said. “It felt amazing to know that all of the hard work and that I had put into my education had culminated in recognition by this national organization.”
Scholarship amounts vary from about $750 a year to $7,000 per year, but it all helps as the students continue their education.
Wang said he was so busy when the list of finalists was announced that he did not think much of it, but he is satisfied to have received a scholarship.
“It’s pretty good money for A&M,” he said. “I’m pretty glad that I managed to get it.”
Wang and Garza have to maintain a 3.5 GPA to continue receiving the scholarship from Texas A&M.
Sottile’s scholarship also has a GPA requirement, but his drive to maintain a high GPA is not to keep a scholarship but to remain in the Honors College at Michigan State.
“That’s a more serious problem,” he said, “especially because that means I’d lose another scholarship.”
Garza said the financial aid brings some relief.
“I wasn’t sure if my job and my family’s contributions would be enough to pay for college, so this scholarship is a huge weight off our backs,” she said. “The scholarship money means that I will be able to continue putting my energy and efforts into furthering my education without worrying about the costs. I am extremely grateful to receive this scholarship.”
Wang also said the scholarship — along with what he received for his Advanced Placement test scores — makes for a “fair bit of money” to go toward college.
“That’s really important because my parents have three kids, including me, and they’ve got to take care of the bills,” he said.
As he prepares for college, Sottile said he is looking forward to the social activities that will be available to him.
“You can find people who share similar interests,” he said, while noting that academics are just as important.
Garza said receiving the scholarship means she has to continue dedicating herself to her studies to show her gratitude and to honor the work she did in high school to earn it.
“I’m incredibly grateful for the scholarship. It means that the efforts I’ve put into my studies [and] school are being recognized,” she said. “It’s a nice bump in self-confidence to know that I’ve done enough to warrant such an accomplishment and that I’ve earned this scholarship with the work and dedication that I’ve put into my education.”
As they continue their education, Sottile plans to study physics, Wang will study computer science and Garza plans to major in biomedical engineering.