The Richmond Register


May 8, 2014

Three Model students named National Merit Scholarship recipients

RICHMOND — Model Laboratory School announced Thursday that three of its seniors, Stephanie McCormick, Maya Gershtenson and Kyle Newsome, were National Merit Scholarship recipients.

McCormick will receive the $2,500 award sponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, while Gershtenson and Newsome will both receive a $2,000 award sponsored by the University of Kentucky.

All three students also were awarded the UK Patterson Scholarship, which is provided to National Merit and Achievement Finalists who list UK as their No. 1 college choice with the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

The award is named after UK’s first president, Dr. James Patterson, and provides undergraduate tuition, room and board, stipend, iPad and a one-time $2,000 summer abroad stipend, according to the university’s website.

McCormick plans to attend UK and earn a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. She then wants to enter the university’s biomedical engineering program for her graduate studies, she said.

“I’ve always found the medical field interesting as a whole,” she said. “The neurological system has always been an interest of mine.”

McCormick said as a young child she was fascinated with science books and learning about the workings of the brain.

Newsome will attend UK to earn a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering but is undecided about where he will attend graduate school.

“I’m really good at math, and I’ve always loved the physical sciences, such as chemistry,” he said. “Chemical engineering seemed the natural choice.”

Gershtenson will pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology, but plans to focus her graduate studies on genetic engineering, she said. Genetics has been an interest of hers since middle school.

“Last semester, I took a genetics class with my friend Stephanie (McCormick) and I really liked it,” she said. “I thought it was interesting to think of the relationship between genetics and environmental factors.”

Gershtenson recalled watching the 1997 film “Gattaca” in a 10th-grade biology class about a naturally-born man in a society of genetically engineered humans. The movie piqued her interest in genetics, she said.

Started in 1955, the National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for high school students who enter the program by taking the Preliminary SAT/ National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which is an initial screen for approximately 1.5 million entrants.

Entrants are whittled down to 15,000 finalists, and the winners are chosen among this group based on their abilities, skills and accomplishments.

Judges evaluate the finalist’s academic record, information about the school’s curricula and grading system, two sets of test scores, the high school official’s written recommendation, information about  the student’s activities and leadership, and the finalist’s own essay, according to the NMSC website.

Approximately 8,000 recipients are awarded one of three types of scholarships: a $2,500 single-payment scholarship through NMSC for which every finalist competes; and corporate- or college-sponsored awards that may either be renewable for four years of undergraduate study or one-time rewards. 

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