A St. Edmond student has been named a 2011 National Merit Scholarship finalist for his achievements on the PSAT and National Merit Scholars Qualification Test.
Sam Kelso, a St. Edmond Senior, is one of 15,000 students nationwide to achieve the honor. He was one of 1.5 million entrants, and among the top 50,000 entrants with a high PSAT score, qualifying him for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship program.
In September, Kelso was named one of 16,000 National Merit semifinalists. The 15,000 finalists were notified in February.
To be eligible for the finalist program, Kelso was required to complete an essay about someone who had a positive influence on his life, and chose to write how retired St. Edmond English teacher J.R. Musselman had inspired him.
"That was a challenge," said Kelso. "An essay doesn't always capture what you think of someone who made such an impact on your life."
The essay was required to have a certain number of characters to be submitted, which Kelso also found to be challenging.
"I tried to submit it, then realized it was a maximum number of characters and not words," he said. "I just couldn't get it to work, so I put a note in the submission area explaining what I was doing and attached a copy of the letter I wrote to Mr. Musselman when he retired."
Kelso said he was pleasantly surprised to find out he was named a finalist because of the difficulty submitting the essay.
"That could have set me back, but it didn't," he said. "I put a lot of thought into that letter; it's one of my favorite things I have ever written. I was very pleased that they accepted it. They could have immediately counted it out, but they didn't."
Kelso is now eligible for a $2,500 National Merit Scholarship, as well as college-sponsored national merit scholarships.
He plans to attend the University of Iowa to major in English, which he said Musselman inspired him to study.
"I actually wanted to become a network administrator before I took his classes," he said, "and that's about as far from English as you could get."