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HHS Press

Hopkinton High School's Student News Site

HHS Press

Hopkinton High School's Student News Site

HHS Press

From PSAT to College Degree: 2024 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

The school’s 2024 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists Bableen Gill, Amanda Xie, Zach Krymgold, Prisha Shrivastava, and Abigail Baskin reflect on their accomplishments and share their plans for the near future.

(From left to right) Bableen Gill, Amanda Xie, Zach Krymgold, Prisha Shrivastava, and Abigail Baskin.  “Students are more serious about their academics and are very high achieving overall,” said counseling department coordinator Mrs. Adelaide Greco.

These five semifinalists, announced in September, are in the top 1% of all 16,000 U.S. students who took the PSAT this past year. Additionally, they may be announced as national finalists in February 2024 and receive The National Merit Scholarship. This  $2,500 scholarship is awarded to around 7,500 select finalists each year. In doing so, the National Merit Scholarship Cooperation (NMSC) aims to recognize ambitious and academically talented students and promote a drive for learning.

To be eligible as a national finalist, semifinalists must submit an application to the NMSC. This process is similar to submitting college applications: applicants must include a transcript, counselor recommendation, personal essay, and resume of extracurricular activities.

Semifinalist Bableen Gill

In the summer leading up to the October 2022 PSAT, semifinalist Bableen Gill was fully absorbed in studying for the August SAT. In fact, she was completely unaware of what the National Merit Scholarship competition even was until the very morning of her PSAT.

Nonetheless, she earned a superb score of 1490 out of 1520 and now awaits the announcement of the national finalists.

“If I do get the money, it’ll lessen the burden on my parents for paying [college] tuition fees. At the same time, the scholarship is more for prestige rather than the money because it’s not a ton of money,” Gill said.

As for college, Gill doesn’t have one dream school. However, she really hopes to go somewhere with a strong pre-med program, like Cornell University, Tufts University, Amherst College, or Boston College.

“In college, I’m going in as a psychology major, but I’m going to be on the pre-med track,” she explained. “From there, I’m not really sure what I’ll do in medicine, but I have time to figure that out.”

Semifinalist Amanda Xie

After receiving her PSAT score of 1480, semifinalist Amanda Xie recalled waiting nearly a year for the semifinalists to be announced.

“There’s such a long turnaround between when you get your original score and when the semifinalists are announced. I kind of knew [I was a semifinalist], just because my score aligned relatively with the past cut-off score for Massachusetts. So I wasn’t too surprised, but was still happy when it was confirmed.”

Xie keeps an open mind when it comes to her future.

“Some people have their entire lives planned out from the moment they jump into high school. But for me, it’s more about seeing what I enjoy when in college,” she said. “I can pursue a wider variety of course offerings and see what I like in terms of my future career.”

Alongside the social sciences, Xie wants to explore studies outside of the traditional K-12 curriculum.

“At the moment, I’m really interested in East Asian studies because of my own Asian American identity. Getting to explore that on a deeper level in college through research or working with professors in that field would be really interesting for me,” she said.

Semifinalist Zach Krymgold

Semifinalist Zach Krymgold also scored 1480 on the PSAT. He entered his exam with quite a relaxed attitude—he didn’t do much studying or pressure himself to become a semifinalist.

“I knew what the scholarship was, but I didn’t really go for it. I kind of just went to see if I wanted to take the SAT or the ACT,” Krymgold reflected.

Krymgold hopes to study engineering in college.

“My dream school right now is MIT,” he said. “It’s the best engineering school, and it’s local.”

Semifinalist Prisha Shrivastava

Semifinalist Prisha Shrivastava, who scored 1490, was already studying for her ACT when she found out that the PSAT was one week before it.

“So during my ACT prep, I was also preparing for the PSAT. I think preparing for the harder test [simultaneously] prepared me for taking the easier one,” said Shrivastava, who found the ACT to be more challenging.

Shrivastava has two main goals for the coming years.

“I want to figure out what I want to do within the realm of biomedical engineering and biotechnology. I’m really fascinated by that field,” Shrivastava said. “On the side, I’m also really passionate about writing novels, so I want to get those published and see them in bookstores one day.”

She hopes to excel in those fields at her dream school, Columbia University.

“I really want to do something in New York because I’m usually the most inspired when I’m around people from different places and backgrounds,” she continued. “Apart from that, Columbia has a really good creative writing program and good research opportunities.”

Semifinalist Abigail Baskin

Like Gill, semifinalist Abigail Baskin took the SAT before the PSAT. Baskin earned a PSAT score of 1490.

“I was able to see what sections I had to improve upon for the PSAT,” Baskin said.

Baskin is applying to schools like Swarthmore College, Williams College, and Barnard College, which have many undergraduate research opportunities.

“For Williams and Swarthmore, I like the small, rural town feel, as well as the small classroom sizes. For Barnard, I like New York City a lot, and you get to take classes at Columbia, too,” she said.

In college, she also wants to pursue a pre-med track.

“I hope to get a lot of research experience in a biomed or biochem lab. The entire field of biology interests me,” she explained. “I also want to figure out exactly what I want to do for my career because I still don’t really know.”

Given the increasing number of semifinalists and finalists from the high school over the past decade, counseling department coordinator Mrs. Adelaide Greco recognized the ambition and talent of this year’s semifinalists.

“Our population is changing. Students are more serious about their academics and are very high achieving overall,” Greco remarked.

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