Garfield Re-2 National Merit Scholars excited for the future
Like any child, Coal Ridge High School senior Aidan Boyd has gone through his share of phases. For a while, space, rockets and the stars captured his imagination and then, then he became more interested in the many countries of the blue planet.
“One of my favorite toys as a kid was a globe,” explained Aidan. “I’ve always really been interested in both of those things (space and geography).”
As he grew in his academic career, he kept the two disciplines separate – science, technology and space exploration never seemed to connect directly with geography, sociology, and global politics.
Like the powerful light of a kilonova, the vision for his career path began to come clear after an experience during a summer program his sixth-grade year.
“I felt like I was headed for a career in science or math, and my other interests would stay just passing interests. It was at the summer program I go to where I met some people who worked in epidemiology,” explained Aidan. “They were talking about diseases – not just the science of disease, but disease prevention, and the political and sociological threads in between. In that moment I was kind of like, ‘Oh, that would be a really good way to combine a lot of what I want to do.’”
That same year saw a significant Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
“I would like to combine my passions and work on how to solve infectious disease outbreaks, particularly in lesser served areas. I’d like to find a way to balance both the medical part – which in many areas we have as in the case of Ebola – and support the human side like in areas where the average person is going to perceive a Western doctor trying to give you medicine as a trick.”
He added that he could go a purely scientific direction and try to answer the “simple” questions like “Why are atoms the way they are?” or help get to the next stage of understanding in fields like chemistry and physics.
Aidan will have some help in his journey. He was recently named one of 16,000 semifinalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program. He and his peers will have an opportunity to compete for more than $31 million in National Merit Scholarships that will be offered in the spring.
According to a news release from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, over 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). The nationwide pool of semifinalists includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. To become a finalist, semifinalists must submit a detailed scholarship application, provide information about their academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. Aidan will know in February if he is a finalist and qualifies for the $2,500 National Merit Scholarship.
But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Over 200 colleges and universities offer automatic scholarships for National Merit Finalists.
“A lot of colleges will give you aid for being a semifinalist,” he explained, adding that because his name is on the semifinalist list, he has already received many academic scholarship offers from schools across the country.
Aidan is not the only Garfield Re-2 student to receive accolades from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Rifle High School students Nicholas Heil and Brayden Burgess, received the honor of being named Commended Scholars. Commended Scholars are among the top scorers in the nation on the National Merit Scholar Qualifying Test. Both students scored in the 98th percentile out of the 1.5 million test-takers.
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