Seniors Achieve National Merit Semifinalist Status

Five MHS seniors who scored exceptionally well on last year’s PSAT were deemed National Merit Semifinalists.


Photo Courtesy of "Talk of the Sound"

The five students named National Merit Semifinalists. Left to right: Conrad Runte (‘22), Arturo Paras (‘22), Francis Conway (‘22), Fatimah Khan (‘22), and Henry Douglass (‘22).

Rebecca Herzberg, Editor-in-Chief

This year, five Mamaroneck High School students were named National Merit Semifinalists by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) on September 15th. They were among the 16,000 students selected from 50,000 “high scorers.” There were roughly 1.5 million students in total who applied for this scholarship program through the 2020 PSAT administration. Mamaroneck Seniors Francis Conway, Henry Douglass, Fatimah Khan, Arturo Paras, and Conrad Runte were among the highest-scoring entrants in New York.

Paras learned of his achievement, like almost all of the other Mamaroneck Semifinalists,  through an article on a local news media outlet called the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Patch. “I felt really surprised because it had been such a long time since I took the test that I had forgotten all about it,” he explains. Almost a year after the qualifying test’s administration, this information felt both sudden and exciting for these seniors. “I definitely felt a sense of pride to be included in the list with the other MHS recipients,” Douglass reflects.

Preparation for this exam looked different for each of these students. While some took a handful of practice PSATs, others like Conway had a different approach. “I didn’t prepare at all for the PSAT, outside of taking the PSAT before in 10th grade,” he recalls. Math courses, specifically algebra, as well as reading both in and out of class are what he believes helped him succeed on the test. Algebra II Honors was also very advantageous to Paras on the two math sections of the test because “most of those questions were [directly] related to that class.” Runte found that his preparation for the ACT “cover[ed] most of the PSAT” content, which was convenient for him, considering he had already begun prepping for the ACT at the time of the test.

About 94% of the NMSC Semifinalists will go on to achieve Finalist status. From this pool, around 50% of applicants will be awarded scholarships. Some universities award students significant sums of money based on their NMSC status. Conway has considered this fact as he continues to look at different colleges. While there are a few different types of scholarships, the primary one for which every Finalist is considered is worth $2,500. Winning this scholarship money is an exciting prospect for the Semifinalists. “Any amount of money towards paying for college would be amazing, so it would really mean a lot to me to win scholarship money through this,” Paras says. 

National Merit Semifinalists will learn if they have progressed to the next stage of the competition as Finalists in February 2022. From there, the NMSC will notify the smaller group of scholarship winners. 

The Globe along with the whole of MHS congratulates these academically-talented Mamaroneck National Merit Semifinalists and wishes them the best of luck as the competition advances to the next round!