- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Alex Smith, a semifinalist for a national scholarship, takes his academic and athletic accomplishments in stride.
Smith, 16, and a senior at La Plata High School, was named a semifinalist for the National Merit Scholarship last week, the National Merit Scholarship Corp. announced.
The corporation will offer about 8,300 scholarships. Smith was one of 16,000 semifinalists in the competition.
Semifinalists are selected based on high scores on the PSAT exam, a practice SAT.
Smith said he did not do anything differently to strive for the merit scholarship other than study as he does for all of his courses.
Smith currently is taking five Advanced Placement courses and participates in multiple extracurricular activities at school, including being a member of the Student Government Association, Key Club, National Honor Society and competing on the “It’s Academic” team.
Smith runs on the cross country team at La Plata and plays the violin.
“He is a fine young man, very well-rounded and always tries to do his very best at anything he attempts to do,” said La Plata Principal Evelyn Arnold.
When asked how he juggles his school work and his many activities, Smith said he is able to find time to get them all done.
For younger students seeking scholarships or looking to stay on the track of straight A’s as he has done, Smith said the only advice would be to “study hard and try to be good at [the subject at hand].”
Smith finds science and math among the courses he enjoys the most and, at times, the advanced math and physics courses present the biggest challenges for him, he said.
During the summer, he did an internship with a company where he learned about bioinformatics, or the method of storing and analyzing biological data.
Smith would like to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after high school but has not landed on exactly what his course of study will be.
According to a news release from the National Merit Scholarship Corp., in order to advance to the finals “a semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by the high school principal, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.”
About 15,000 semifinalists will move on to the finals and compete for up to $2,500 in scholarship funds.
Finalists will be notified in February and winners will be announced in April.