Two National Merit finalists from College Station were awarded college-sponsored scholarships to attend their top-choice universities.
Elise Sawyer and Noah Taylor, graduates of A&M Consolidated High School and College Station High School, respectively, were among more than 4,100 college-sponsored National Merit scholarships throughout the country this summer, according to a press release from the National Merit program.
The scholarships will provide the students with between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years at their chosen university. Combined with the National Merit $2,500 scholarships and corporate-sponsored scholarships, a total of 7,500 students received scholarships through the National Merit program, earning “nearly $30 million” collectively, according to the release.
Both Sawyer and Taylor said the scholarship means more than money because of the opportunities it unlocks for them in college.
With the scholarship coming through the National Merit Scholarship Program, Sawyer said, it qualified her for the honors program at the University of Texas at Dallas and unlocked additional opportunities available only through the school’s honors program.
“I think being able to do so many special programs and also have more of a network going into college and just different things I can look at, I just think it opens up so many more opportunities,” she said.
There was not an additional step to securing the scholarship, she said. Once she was named a National Merit finalist earlier this year, she was eligible for the scholarship from the school as long as she listed UT-Dallas as her top-choice university.
As she looks ahead to college, Sawyer said, she is excited for the opportunities she will have in the UT-Dallas honors program as she pursues a degree in economics.
Taylor, who received a college-sponsored scholarship from Texas A&M, said the scholarship led to “cascade” of other scholarships and opportunities, including a second merit-based scholarship from the university and an engineering-specific Brown Foundation scholarship.
Taylor’s grandparents had ensured he had money to attend a four-year in-state university, but the National Merit scholarship and other scholarships it led to has allowed him to put some of that money toward professional school. He is interested in Texas A&M’s EnMed program where he can explore engineering and medicine and perform research.
He appreciates the National Merit-based scholarships, he said, because they are not based on a particular major. His only requirement is to maintain a certain grade point average and meet other academic requirements.
“That’s one of the biggest things is it’s allowing me to kind of explore,” he said.
Taylor said one of the things he is most looking forward to is living on his own, calling that one of the most important things a person can learn in college. He is also excited to meet new people and see the opportunities that are available to him.
“That is just exciting to me to think of what will I be four years down the line, down the road, when I graduate and how I’ve changed by then,” he said.