Heather O’Hern ’21 named National Merit Scholarship Finalist
Oak Knoll senior Heather O’Hern ’21 from Westfield, was recently named as a finalist in the 66th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.
O’Hern, who was among nearly 15,000 semi-finalists last fall based on PSAT scores during her junior year, is now in the running to become an official Merit Scholar designee, by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). Merit Scholars, to be announced between April-July 2021, will compete for more than 7,600 scholarships worth more than $30 million.
The Merit Scholar designees are chosen from the semifinalist group based on abilities, skills, and accomplishments — without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.
A variety of information is available for NMSC selectors to evaluate: the finalist’s academic record, information about the school’s curricula and grading system, PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index score, the high school official’s written recommendation, information about the student’s activities and leadership, and the finalist’s own essay.
“We are so proud and celebrate with Heather as she is recognized as a National Merit Scholarship Finalist,” said Kate McGroarty, Oak Knoll’s Upper School Division Head. “This impressive recognition demonstrates her continued commitment to academic excellence and the entire Oak Knoll community wishes her all the best of luck in the finals.”
Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2021. Every finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 scholarships that will be awarded on a state-representational basis. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 220 corporations and business organizations for finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. In addition, about 180 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,100 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.
“I’d like to thank my teachers and everyone who has helped me along the way,” O’Hern said. “It’s a nice way to finish off my high school career and I am really looking forward to new experiences in college.”
NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarships are underwritten by NMC with its own funds and by approximately 400 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.
O’Hern joins Caroline Hall ’20, Sabrina Solow ’15 and Megan Hogan ’08 who represent Oak Knoll as National Merit Finalists.