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Posted on Tue, Apr 30, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

3 Ann Arbor students win corporate-sponsored National Merit Scholarships

By Danielle Arndt

Three Ann Arbor high school students recently were awarded corporate-sponsored National Merit Scholarships.

In September, 90 seniors from Ann Arbor public and private schools, Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester and Saline were named semifinalists in the 58th annual National Merit Scholarship Competition.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation hands out three categories of scholarships every spring. The corporate-sponsored scholarship winners are the first of the three annual award announcements.

Alexander Kaldjian from Skyline High School, Joseph Sorenson from Father Gabriel Richard High School and Zibo Zou from Huron High School were the three Ann Arbor students who won corporate awards.

The remaining 87 Washtenaw County seniors still have a shot at a $2,500 merit scholarship or a college-sponsored award through the competition.

According to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, 1,000 high school seniors were given corporate scholarships this year that range from $500 to $10,000 per year of college. Often corporate sponsors give scholarships for national merit finalists who are children of employees, residents in the communities they serve or students who plan to pursue college majors or careers that the businesses wants to encourage, said a press release announcing the winners.

Kaldjian intends to seek a career in science or research, Sorenson is interested in mathematics and Zou plans to study engineering.

Each year, less than 1 percent of high school seniors earn the honor of being named a "National Merit Finalist."

Students enter the National Merit Scholarship Corporation contest automatically by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

To become a finalist and to have access to nearly 8,300 different scholarships — worth a total of more than $35 million — the semifinalist and his or her high school has to submit a detailed application providing the semifinalist's academic record, school and community activities, leadership abilities, and honors and awards they have received. The semifinalist also has to write an essay and earn SAT scores that confirm the student's earlier performance on his or her qualifying test to become a finalist, according to the news release.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Wed, May 1, 2013 : 10:37 a.m.

Great accomplishment. The National Merit process is a well disguised effort by the owners of the SAT exam to get people to pay to take it. Many students, including those in Michigan, take the ACT and have no reason to take the SAT, except to try and qualify for a scholarship. Our child was a finalist, got nothing, but they got their money.


Fri, Jun 21, 2013 : 1:39 a.m.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation has no direct affiliation with the owners of the SAT.

Angry Moderate

Wed, May 1, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

Sounds like you'd be fine with it if your kid won.

Chester Drawers

Wed, May 1, 2013 : 11:35 a.m.

I know that for the last few years students (at least at Pioneer) have not had to pay for the PSAT. I believe the cost has been covered by a grant from the Education Foundation.

Paula Gardner

Wed, May 1, 2013 : 10:27 a.m.

We've been preparing out "Top Scholars" stories for later this month, so achievement of local teens has been top of mind at Happy to see this story, too. This community is spending a lot of time dealing with the finances of education. I love the reminders of teen accomplishment amid all of that.

Christine Stead

Wed, May 1, 2013 : 9:34 a.m.

Congratulations to these three students - and best of luck to the remaining 87 on earning scholarship awards!