Senior Dana Kim wins National Merit Scholarship

Bringing pride to Los Al, Dana Kim’s accomplishment serves to highlight her hard work and inspire future students
Dana Kims achievement as the winner of the National Merit Scholarship undoubtedly brings a wave of positivity to Los Alamitos High School, Principal Kraus said.
“Dana Kim’s achievement as the winner of the National Merit Scholarship undoubtedly brings a wave of positivity to Los Alamitos High School,” Principal Kraus said.
Los Alamitos Unified School District Instagram

LOS ALAMITOS, CA — Across the country, the 2024 National Merit Scholars have been announced and this year, Los Alamitos High School senior Dana Kim, is one of them. Senior class president, founder of debate team, 4-year Model United Nations member, and much more, Kim’s new title of National Merit Scholar winner is another accomplishment to add to her impressive list. After taking the PSAT her junior year and getting back her exceptional scores, Kim is one of the 2,500 finalists who made it through the thorough selection process and won the prestigious $2,500 National Merit Scholarship.

[Dana Kim’s] recognition on a national scale elevates the reputation of Los Alamitos High School, showcasing its dedication to academic excellence and producing students who are capable of competing at the highest levels.”

— Principal Kraus

What is the National Merit Scholarship?

The National Merit Scholarship is the annual award given to students with PSAT scores in the 99th percentile of test takers. In their junior year of high school, students opt to take the PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test); those scores are then used to determine the semi-finalists, finalists, and winners of the scholarship. Out of the 15,000 finalists, 8,000 students are given Merit Scholarship awards and 2,500 of those students are chosen for the top $2,500 National Merit Scholarships. Apart from a student’s PSAT scores, their academic track record and activities are also considered when choosing the top finalists.

“All [of] the semi-finalists have to fill out an application with one essay and a list of five activities,” Kim said. “It’s kind of like a mini college application where you just tell them more about yourself and who you are.”

Because there are so many top scorers throughout the country, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation’s in-depth selection process helps to make sure only the best applicants are commended. 

“Based on the application and your character, they reward the recipients of the scholarship,” Kim said. “I’m really grateful that I had the opportunity to show them who I am.”

Dana Kim’s experience winning the National Merit Scholarship

The process with the National Merit Scholarship was long for Kim, spanning from October of her junior year to this May. Leading up to the exam, she explained how she prepared for the PSAT by simply doing the practice tests provided along with prep for the actual SAT.

“I just did a couple practice tests and thoroughly reviewed my missed questions, so it was mainly just prepping and practicing that,” Kim said.

Kim also recalled how winning was actually a surprise to her, as she didn’t fully understand that she was the sole finalist from Los Al. After getting an email explaining her award, she mistakenly thought that’s what all finalists were given and was in for an exciting surprise when she finally found out she was the sole winner from Los Al.

“My friend and I [thought] someone else had gotten it and we were joking about it because I didn’t think that letter I got in April was the scholarship,” Kim said.

However, after being on the Principal’s Newsletter, Kim soon understood the true weight of her accomplishment and her tremendous win.

“Dana Kim’s win is not just a personal triumph, but a collective celebration for the entire school community, reinforcing the value of hard work, determination, and academic excellence,” Principal Kraus said.

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  • K

    Katie ArnoultMay 29, 2024 at 11:19 am

    This is a great feature article, Jaya! And congrats to Dana Kim!