NEWINGTON - The 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program recently welcomed two Newington High School students into its ranks.
Senior Josh Akosa has qualified as a semifinalist for the 2021 competition, and now has an opportunity to advance to finalist standing and be considered for a National Merit Scholarship.
A student scholar in the Biomedical Science Academy at NHS, Akosa completed extensive internship and volunteer service during his high school career. He participated in programs at the University of Connecticut, including UConn Health Center’s Clinic for Migrant Farmers. He also spent two summers volunteering at Hartford Hospital.
At NHS, Akosa co-founded the Stop the Stigma Club, raising awareness about mental health and addiction.
As outlined in his application essay to become a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program, Akosa has found his voice and is using it to help other people.
“My learning philosophy is that you are never done learning and once you are done learning you’re done growing,” Akosa told the Herald and Town Crier this week. “You need to have this intellectual fascination with you wherever you go. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.”
After graduation from NHS, he’s planning on pursuing studies of higher education in neuroscience and biology.
Entry into the 2021 National Merit Scholar Program was based on scoring in the 2019 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Of the 1.5 million program entrants, some 50,000 with the highest PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index scores (calculated by doubling the sum of the Reading, Writing and Language, and Math test scores) qualify for recognition in the program.
About one-third of the approximately 50,000 high-scorers qualify as semifinalists and the remaining two-thirds, Commended Students.
NHS senior Alexis Santo was named a 2021 Commended Student.
“Those being named Commended Students have demonstrated outstanding potential for academic success,” commented a spokesperson for the National Merit Scholarship Program. “These students represent a valuable national resource; recognizing their accomplishments, as well as the key role in their schools play in their academic development, is vital to the advancement of educational excellence in our nation. We hope that this recognition will help broaden their educational opportunities and encourage them as they continue in their pursuit of academic success.”
Santo is a member of the Aerospace and Engineering Academy, and is pursuing a career in audio and sound engineering. Between her sophomore and junior years, she completed over 60 hours of internship at two different sites. She’s also an accomplished martial artist with a black belt in Kenpo Karate.
NHS Career Academy counselor Rachel Arnett has worked with both Santo and Akosa on their career goals and pursuits.
“Both of them are really unbelievable with the amount of experience they’ve had,” Arnett explained. “They’re constantly seeking opportunities to expand their knowledge and development.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.