Five students from Winter Park High School, Edgewater High School and Trinity Preparatory School were chosen.
Only the best and the brightest can become National Merit Scholars — and Winter Park has five of them this year.
A list released earlier this year by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation revealed five local students in the Winter Park area have been named as finalists for National Merit Scholarships. The five local scholars were among about 15,000 people chosen across the country. They will receive funds for housing, books, food and other living expenses through four years of college in the fall and spring semesters.
Local students include Allison Barkdull and Adam DeLoach, of Winter Park High School; Annabel Zinn, of Edgewater High School; and Carolyn Lightsey and Madeleine Myers, of Trinity Preparatory School.
Zinn, 18, was offered a sponsorship by the University of Central Florida, where she will be studying both biomedical science and electrical engineering.
“I was honestly surprised when I found out,” she said of the scholarship. “I found out I was the only one (from Edgewater High School) and I was like, ‘Wow.’ For me, it was like, ‘This is awesome,’ because I wasn’t actually getting any money from college savings or anything. … It was a little overwhelming. … It’s a sigh of relief. From then on it was a huge weight off of my shoulders.”
In September 2017, a list of National Merit Scholarship semifinalists throughout the country was released — all the students who met a certain threshold in their PSAT score during their junior year. More than 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program when they took the 2016 PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.
Semifinalists then were asked to write an essay, submit a letter of recommendation and send their transcripts.
Most of the students who qualify as semifinalists then move on to become finalists — including Zinn this year.
The Edgewater graduate hopes to use her dual degrees from UCF to create something useful in the medical industry with 3D printing, possibly equipment for surgeries.
“I wanted to make something and do something and make a difference,” she said. “If you have the power, you should do it.”
Zinn also offered some advice to high-schoolers looking to make the most of their four years leading up to college.
“It’s choosing your own way to go about your education and giving yourself advantages,” she said. “You just have to look into opportunities. You need to go for it and study for the (PSAT), do dual enrollment and prepare yourself for college. If you just never do anything and just follow what the high school tells you to do, their only job is to make you graduate.”