Cranbury residents Emilia Ferrante and Elise Root competed against thousands of students across the country to achieved one of the highest student honors —-National Merit Scholarship winners.
Ferrante and Root, who is each a senior at Princeton High School, became finalists for the scholarship by scoring in the top one percent of 1.6 million juniors in the country who took the PSAT in 2017.
“I took the test in fall of junior year and did not know I was a finalist till March of 2019. It was a very long waiting period, but I studied really hard leading up to it.,” Ferrante said. “I was just super excited that my hard work had paid off.”
Root said she did not expect the honor, but felt good about her performance on the PSAT.
“It was either September or October that they let us know we were semifinalists. We had to answer some questions after that and then found out we were finalists in March,” she said. “I was not expecting it, but I was not super shocked when I found out. I knew I had done well on the PSAT.”
According to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, the National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. High school students enter the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.
Ferrante said being a recipient of the National Merit Scholarship was validation for all of her hard work.
“These past four years academically in high school and having done a lot of studying for the standardized tests it felt really good to get the recognition for the hard work on a broader standpoint,” she said.
Ferrante said she felt great after leaving the testing room for the PSAT.
“But you never really know, so I was sort of hoping. I had put it out of my mind until we got the results back,” she said.
Ferrante will be heading to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and plans on studying English in the honors program and the residential college program. She said there will be an honors component to her degree, as well as, a residential college component.
“I am proud to be a recipient of the National Merit Scholarship, which is one part of my academic and educational career in Princeton. This is another item to add to the list of things I am proud of,” Ferrante said.
She said she did a lot of prep work for the test with her dad Mike Ferrante.
“We carved out two hours every Sunday morning, months before the prep tests started. We worked through every section of the test, Ferrante said. “That not only prepared me for the PSAT but also for the SAT and ACT. It all just worked out positively.”
She received a $2,000 per year scholarship by being a finalist through Bristol-Myers Squibb, which selected 30 students for scholarship who were finalists.
For Root, she knew the format of the PSAT having taken it in her junior year.
“I have always been good at standardized tests, being a recipient was a really nice recognition. This was just nice to get it,” she said.
Root said her family and friends were really excited about her being a winner and finalist.
“My parents I don’t think were super shocked that I became a finalist, but were happy when we got the news. The possibility for money was exciting,” she said.
Root will be attending Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. in the fall. She said she is undecided right now, but leaning toward a major in Biology.
“To be a recipient of the National Merit Scholarship, and know I did well, has just been really nice,” she said.
Both Ferrante and Root were among just 15,000 finalists for a National Merit Scholarship.