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Eighteen HCS Students Named National Merit Finalists

  • February 24, 2023

    The National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced the names of 18 Horry County Schools students as Finalists in the 68th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. These HCS students are among 15,000 Finalists who have an opportunity to compete for over 8,000 National Merit Scholarships, the value of which ranges from $2,000 to $40,000 each.

    HCS National Merit Finalists are:

    • Zhong Zhao – Scholars Academy and Aynor High School

    • Alan Bao, Connor Boyle, Emmanuel Gibbs, Gavin Ockert, Eniola Olufemi, and John Sumter – Scholars Academy and Carolina Forest High School

    • Lola Bellah and Tanner Buck – Scholars Academy and St. James High School

    • Keith Bullard, Sawyer Osborne, Nicholas Volante, and Guoyi Zhong – Scholars Academy and Socastee High School

    • Philipp Rauhut – Academy for the Arts, Science, and Technology (AAST) and Carolina Forest High School

    • Aarya Patel – Academy for the Arts, Science, and Technology (AAST) and North Myrtle Beach High School

    • Victoria Tartisel-Ogden – Academy for the Arts, Science, and Technology (AAST) and St. James High School 

    • Megan Lane – Socastee High School

    • Jackson Large – St. James High School




  • About 95 percent of the Semifinalists attained Finalist standing, and about half the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title. In about 21,000 high schools, high school juniors entered the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2020 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

    To become a Finalist, the Semifinalist and his or her high school had to submit a detailed scholarship application. They provided information about the Semifinalist's academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. In addition, a Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student's earlier performance on the qualifying test.

    From the approximately 16,000 Semifinalists, about 15,000 advanced to the Finalist level. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of Finalists. Merit Scholar designees are selected based on their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, regardless of gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.

    Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2023. Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 Scholarships awarded on a state-representational basis. About 950 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by as many as 180 corporations and business organizations for Finalists who meet their specified criteria. In addition, about 160 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 3,800 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.

    National Merit Scholarship winners of 2023 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join some 362,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.