Rock Canyon Student Announced as National Merit Scholar
In September 2021, Rock Canyon High School (RCHS) student Joshua Ruegge was notified that the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) had recognized him as a National Merit Semifinalist based on the score he had received on the PSAT qualifier test from the previous year. Since then, Ruegge made it his goal to become a National Merit Scholar. In spring 2022, his senior year, Ruegge learned he had succeeded.
“For me, advancing to a National Merit finalist involved a rigorous application process, including written excerpts and letters of recommendation from both the school and district level, as well as maintaining high academic performance and scoring similarly or higher on the official SAT test,” Ruegge said.
Ruegge noted that winning this prestigious award would hopefully unlock new doors for him in the future. “Being a National Merit Scholar distinguishes me as someone passionate about and successful in academics,” he added. “I was always confident about my chances, and being named a semifinalist is the most competitive part of the scholarship, but I could never stop worrying that I’d missed an important step or made some other kind of silly mistake!”
Since 1955, the National Merit Scholarship Program has been a nationwide competition based on academic merit. According to the NMSC, about 1.5 million students submit their standardized test scores to apply to the program each year in hopes of receiving a sum of money, often ranging from $500 to $2,000 annually for four years of undergraduate study at sponsor colleges – and of course, the title that comes with it. The highest-scoring students in the program may receive recognition, such as the “Commended Student” title, or move on to the semifinalists group, like Ruegge did. Although both categories are eligible for other scholarships through the program, only semifinalists can advance to the finalists group, the group that the official National Merit Scholars are chosen from based on other factors such as personal essays, letters of recommendation and more.
The final confirmation of awards was sent exclusively by mail. This caused them to arrive at different times for different people around the country.
“Waiting for the final confirmation of my award was a stressful process, so it was definitely a relief to finally find out for sure, and now I’m so thankful,” Ruegge exclaimed. “I’m especially thankful for help from my orchestra teacher Mr. Dale and the gifted AP coordinator and Assistant Principal Mrs. Rosati for their many letters and recommendations written for me and help throughout the application process as well.”
The money and title Ruegge won will allow him to receive in-state tuition rates and aid for the remaining costs of his college education. He plans to use the money to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science at his scholarship-sponsor college, Texas Tech University in Lubbock, this fall.
The last round of NMSC awards for other students will be announced July 11.
By Claire Bauer, RCHS intern writer; photo courtesy of the Ruegge family