National Merit Commended Students


Photo by Ayla Sozen

Story by Anna Graves, print co-editor-in-chief

Three seniors, Alex Heo, Kaulyn Loe and Alanna Tran have been named Commended Students in the 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program.

There are 34,000 Commended Students in the nation, and they are placed among the top 5 percent of more than 1.5 million students. Students were entered into the competition when they took the 2014 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

“It feels humbling to be recognized as one of the top-ranking students in the nation for the PSAT,” Tran said. “I’m very happy that a few of my friends are being awarded this title as well.”

These students have been working since middle school on improving their scores in order to possibly reach a higher recognition.

“When I first found out I was really happy because I’ve really worked hard for it,” Heo said.  “Ever since I was in the seventh grade, I’ve been I was part of the Duke Talent Identification Program. So I was preparing for the SAT essentially since the seventh grade, and my score was high enough to get state recognition. So from then on my parents encouraged to keep on practicing for the SAT and go for the PSAT next.”

Because there were only three students from Texas High named as Commended Students, the honor is even more prestigious.

“I’m really honored,” Loe said. “I spent most of my summer last year studying for it, so I was really pleased that my work paid off. It’s a really good feeling because I know the other two are really smart, so it shows how I compare with my peers.”

This recognition comes with many benefits for the three students as well as demonstrates a great potential for academic success.

“It’s a $1,500 scholarship which is really nice,” Heo said. “The recognition of being a winner is  nice too. I wish I would’ve been a finalist, but being commended is great too.”