CAM Academy seniors finalists for National Merit Scholarship

March 7, 2024

John Ong (left) and Hana Feldheger with their National Merit Scholarship finalist certificatesNot one, but both of CAM Academy’s National Merit Scholarship semifinalists are moving on to the finals, with a shot at a $2,500 scholarship, or other awards to put toward their continuing education.

John Ong and Hana Feldheger each earned a spot in the semifinals with their Preliminary SAT test scores. They then had to fill out a lot of paperwork, write an essay and get a letter of recommendation from an administrator and a teacher. They learned late last month that they are two of around 15,000 finalists. Nearly half of those will go on to earn a scholarship opportunity.

“I feel very lucky,” said Feldheger upon receiving her certificate from CAM Principal Ryan Cowl. “I never thought I would get this far.”

“It’s kind of a weird feeling,” agreed Ong. “It’s surprising, and I’m grateful, but at the moment I kind of feel like whatever happens, happens.”

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization established in 1955 to identify and encourage scholastically talented American youth to develop their abilities to the fullest. 

John Ong receives his certificate from CAM Academy Principal Ryan CowlFeldheger, who attends Running Start full time, said she is still awaiting some college applications, but hoping to get into the University of Washington to pursue a business major and a career in film production. Ong is trying to decide between Purdue and the University of Massachusetts, where he plans to get a degree in something math related, probably computer science or programming.

CAM Academy’s last National Merit Scholarship finalist was in 2018, according to Cowl. This is the first time he could recall that two students at the school have made it this far at the same time.

Every finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit Scholarships that will be awarded on a state-representational basis. In addition, about 160 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 3,800 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards. Another 840 Merit Scholarships will be provided by approximately 160 corporations and business organizations who meet specific criteria.

National Merit Scholarship winners of 2024 will be announced beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join nearly 375,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.


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