Five in area win National Merit Scholarships

Rick Wagner • May 29, 2013 at 7:49 AM

KINGSPORT — Five Northeast Tennessee high school graduates, including two from Kingsport, have won National Merit Scholarships, according to an announcement from the Illinois-based National Merit Scholarship Corp.

The five students are Dobyns-Bennett High School graduate Jeffery Murphy of Kingsport; homeschooled graduate David Russell of Kingsport; Science Hill graduate Robyn Manhard of Piney Flats; Greeneville High School graduate Kaitlyn Sutherlen of Greeneville; and Science Hill graduate Peter Torok of Johnson City.

Following is an rundown of the five and the universities they will attend, which are helping provide the scholarships.

• Jeffrey F. Murphy, with a probable career field of medicine, plans to attend the University of South Carolina.

• David Andrew Russell, with a probable career field of mechanical engineering, plans to attend the University of Tennessee.

• Kaitlyn R. Sutherlen, with a probable career field of mechanical engineering, plans to attend Auburn University.

• Robyn E. Manhard Flats, with a probable career field in civil engineering, plans to attend Auburn University.

• Peter L. Torok, with a probable career field of engineering, will attend the University of Tennessee.

The announcement is the third National Merit Scholar release in 2013 by National Merit Scholarship Corp. NMSC named recipients of corporate-sponsored awards on April 24 and winners of National Merit $2,500 Scholarships on May 8. Additional recipients of college-sponsored awards will be announced on July 15. By the conclusion of this year’s competition, about 8,000 academic champions will have won National Merit Scholarships worth more than $35 million.

About 1.5 million juniors in some 22,000 high schools entered the 2013 National Merit Scholarship competition when they took the 2011 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship qualifying test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. Last fall, approximately 16,000 semifinalists were named on a state representational basis in numbers proportional to each state’s percentage of the national total of graduating high school seniors.

Semifinalists were the highest- scoring program entrants in each state and represented less than 1 percent of the nation’s seniors.

To compete for Merit Scholarship awards, semifinalists first had to advance to the finalist level of the competition by fulfilling additional requirements. Each semifinalist was asked to submit a detailed scholarship application, which included writing an essay and providing information about extracurricular activities, awards and leadership positions. Semifinalists also had to have an outstanding academic record, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, and earn SAT scores that confirmed the qualifying test performance. From the semifinalist group, some 15,000 met requirements for finalist standing, and more than half of the finalists will be Merit Scholarship winners in 2013.

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