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National Achievement Scholarship Winner

Olivia Watson, headshot.
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Olivia Watson
Olivia Watson Pacifica High School

On Wednesday, April 6, 2011National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced the names of some 800 outstanding Black American high school seniors who have won Achievement Scholarship® awards through the National Achievement Scholarship Program. These awards totaling over $2 million dollars are being financed by grants from approximately 30 corporate organizations and professional associations, and by National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

The National Achievement Scholarship Program is a privately financed academic competition established in 1964 specifically to honor scholastically talented Black American youth, and to provide scholarships to a substantial number of the most outstanding participants in each annual competition. By the conclusion of the 2011 program, marking the 47th annual competition, more than 31,000 participants will have received scholarships for undergraduate study worth about $98 million. The program is conducted by National Merit Scholarship Corporation, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance.

Achievement Scholar designees announced today include 700 recipients of National Achievement® $2500 Scholarships. All students who advanced to the Finalist level in the 2011 competition were considered for these single-payment scholarships, which were awarded on a regional representation basis, in proportion to the population of Black Americans in each geographic region.

About 100 Scholars are winners of corporate-sponsored Achievement Scholarship awards. Winners were chosen from among Finalists who meet the criteria of their grantor organizations. Most are residents of an area served by the sponsor, children of the sponsor company employees, or Finalists planning to pursue a college major or career the sponsor wishes to encourage. Almost all corporate-sponsored scholarships are renewable and provide stipends that can vary from $500 to $10,000 per year, but a few provide a single payment between $2,500 and $5,000.

2011 National Achievement Scholarship Competition
More than 160,000 students entered the 2011 National Achievement Scholarship Program by requesting consideration when they took the 2009 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®) as high school juniors. In September 2010, approximately 1,600 of the highest scorers were named Semifinalists on a regional representation basis. To continue in the competition, Semifinalists had to fulfill requirements for Finalist standing, which included having a record of consistently high academic performance; being endorsed and recommended by an official of their high school; earning SAT scores that confirm their PSAT/NMSQT performance; and writing an essay.

From the Semifinalist pool, some 1,300 advanced to the Finalist level, and all National Achievement Scholarship winners were selected from this group of outstanding students. Achievement Scholar awardees are the Finalist candidates judged to have the strongest record of accomplishments and greatest potential for academic success in college.

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