Dobbs Ferry teen Rebecca Wiersma is one out of 16,000 semifinalists to beat out 1.5 million students in the U.S. for the chance to win a National Merit Scholarship.
The Dobbs Ferry High School senior will complete for about 8,300 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million that will be given out in the spring. About 90 percent of semifinalists are expected to be finalists, with half of the finalists winning the National Merit Scholarship and the title of Merit Scholar.
“I was surprised when I first found out, and of course I am excited,” said Wiersma, 17. “I also feel incredibly lucky, because I know so many people that could just as easily be in the same position.”
To qualify for National Merit distinction students must have a certain score on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). Finalists are required to submit a detailed application including academic records, school and community activities, leadership abilities, and any awards or honors received in addition to submitting an essay, recommendations and have SAT scores that match your PSAT/NMSQT scores.
Click here for more on the scholarship program and the application process.
"Dobbs Ferry High School is very proud to recognize Rebecca as a Semifinalist in this year’s National Merit Scholarship Program,” said Dobbs Ferry High School Principal John Falino.
Though Wiersma won’t find out if she qualifies as a finalist until February, it seems as if she’s already got it in the bag. Here are all of the things this wonder student does and has achieved:
- She is an International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma candidate and member of the National Honor Society and French Honor Society
- She is co-editor of Dobbs Ferry High School’s newspaper the “Eagle Echo” and writes for “Orpheus” the school’s literary magazine
- She has been president of the Sign Language Club since the ninth grade
- She is captain of the Varsity Cross Country Team, running indoor and outdoor track during the year
- She has been studying piano since she was 5-years-old and is a talented musical
Wiersma has also been involved in the high school’s science research program and in passionate about genetics, and feels it holds the key to vast improvements in health in the future.
“Genetic research has uncovered so much about the mechanisms behind diseases such as Alzheimer's and cancer, but conditions such as these are still incurable," she said. "I think that it is exciting to explore a field in which there is still so much that is unknown, but that also holds such huge potential. I also find it fascinating to observe how changes at the micro level so greatly impact what we see at the macro level.”
Her research project focuses on finding a treatment or cure for Noonan syndrome, a genetic disorder that can lead to heart disease and increase risk for Leukemia. She intends to submit her research to local and national science competitions.
“I would describe Rebecca as a ‘Renaissance woman’ and her participation both in and outside of the classroom is evidence of this,” said school counselor Cristin Silk. “She possesses an authentic desire to learn and makes significant contributions to our school community by simply being herself – intelligent, inquisitive, hard-working, dedicated, motivated and kind.”
When asked, Wiersma said sometimes she isn’t sure how she manages to juggle all her schoolwork, research, other activities and life.
“Sometimes it’s overwhelming, but I enjoy everything that I am currently involved in,” said Wiersma. “I try to prioritize based on what is most important to make, and take things a day at a time.”
The Dobbs Ferry teen said she isn’t sure what college she wants to go to, but would like to pursue molecular biology and continue her French studies.
“As for my life following college, I haven’t made up my mind yet,” said Wiersma.