31 seniors named National Merit Semifinalists

Jonathan Seymour

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced Wednesday the names of 16,000 National Merit Semifinalists across the country, including 31 students from Harvard-Westlake. The semifinalists are the students whose 2015 PSAT scores comprise their respective states’ top one percent.

California’s selective index, which is the state-specific cutoff minimum PSAT score needed to achieve semifinalist status, is back up to 223, as it was in 2013, after dropping to 222 last year. California’s 2016 index tied with Massachusetts for the second highest cutoff under international students, the District of Columbia and New Jersey, which all had cutoffs of 225.

The number of Harvard-Westlake semifinalists is an increase from last year’s total of 25 students, but this year’s total is also lower than 2013’s record 54 semifinalists.

“We are pleased that the number increased from last year’s 25 even as it appears that the California cutoff, at 223, is the highest it’s ever been,” Upper School Dean Sharon Cuseo said. “Compared with other years, it’s a very solid showing. [It’s] not the highest and not the lowest. But, [it is] very impressive given the very high bar this year.”

The 16,000 semifinalists have the opportunity to apply for 7,400 National Merit Scholarships by submitting an application by October 7 that includes a personal essay as well as their academic transcripts, a letter of recommendation from their deans and a confirmation that they plan to attend college in the fall of 2016. Additionally, to qualify to become a National Merit Finalist, the semifinalist must score well on the SAT.

This list of semifinalists from the Harvard-Westlake class of 2016 is below.

Zachary Belateche

Laura Campbell

Sharon Chow

Alexander Hsing

Sean Jung

Elliot Kang

Cole Kawana

Hannah Kelson

Alex Kihiczak

Eugenia Ko

Paula Lahera

Christopher Lee

Jaebok Lee

Nathan Lee

Leena Lim

Sacha Lin

Arjun Mahajan

Daniel Mosch

Benjamin Most

Henry Muhlheim

Jon Nelson

Lucas Perez

Hannah Rasekhi

Joss Saltzman

Jonathan Seymour

Nicholas Steele

Genevieve Thomas

Dietrich Tribull

Miles Van Tongeren

Simone Woronoff

Andrew Wu