HVA senior a National Merit Semi-Finalist

Hardin Valley Academy senior Tori Hart
Hardin Valley Academy senior Tori Hart recalled she was “super excited” when she found out Monday, Sept. 9, that she was named as a National Merit Semi-Finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

However, she added, “I had suspected that I would be a semifinalist after I got my PSAT score.”

“Tori has an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be offered next spring,” said Stephanie Crichton, HVA Service Learning and Public Relations coordinator, adding more than 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and about half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship.

The semifinalist designation is determined by the score students get on the PSAT test taken their junior year, Hart said.

“As a semifinalist, you get the opportunity to apply to be a finalist,” she said. “If you pass through that round, you enter an interview stage that determines whether or not you are a National Scholar.”

Those National Scholars get a $2,500 scholarship, plus a variety of scholarships from other post-secondary schools.

“More than 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, which served as an initial screen of program entrants,” Crichton said. “From the approximately 16,000 semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalist level, and in February they will be notified of this designation.”

For Hart, National Merit designation “could open a lot of doors.

“I’m mainly really excited about this due to the opportunities it will offer me,” Hart said. “I am proud of this accomplishment because it shows, in a concrete way, how my work throughout high school has paid off.”

While undecided on a college, she plans to major in biology and pursue a career in medical research, maybe genetic or molecular.

“I plan to determine that based on what research and classes I enjoy while in college,” said Hart, a STEM Academy student at HVA. “I want to pursue this career course because it combines my love of science and research while allowing me to make a genuine impact on the community around me.”

Hart is the daughter of Julie and Jason Hart of Knoxville; sister of Ryan, Katie, David and Michael; and granddaughter of Bernadine and Wayne Tomiak of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Elizabeth and Sam Hart of Needham, Massachusetts.