Two USJ Seniors, Elisa Kapunan and Anika Mahajan, have been recognized as Semifinalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program. Approximately 16,000 students in the nation received Semifinalist recognition last week out of over 1.5 million entrants. The Semifinalist pool represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors. Only two students from Jackson were recognized, and both are seniors at USJ.
The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. Students enter the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which serves as an initial screen. Students that advance to the Finalist level will be notified of their designation in February of 2020.
Elisa Kapunan is the daughter of Mr. Eleazar and Mrs. Joyce Kapunan. She is the founder and president of the American Red Cross Club at USJ and currently serves as treasurer of the Student Government Association. An accomplished violinist, Elisa served as concertmaster while performing at the 2019 Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts in Murfreesboro. She was twice selected as a member of Tennessee’s All-State Orchestra, served as assistant concertmaster for the 2017-18 All West Orchestra, and has served as a Jackson Symphony Ambassador for four years. Elisa was a Girls State Delegate, a Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Delegate, served as a Junior Marshal, and was the recipient of numerous academic awards including the Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony Award in Humanities and Social Sciences. Elisa is an AP Scholar and has attended USJ for 13 years.
Anika Mahajan is the daughter of Mr. Sunny and Mrs. Natasha Mahajan and has attended USJ for 13 years. She is the founder and president of USJ’s UNICEF Club and served as yearbook editor for two years. A three-year member of the Honor Council, Anika currently serves as speaker. She was also a four-year member of the varsity tennis team and was a two-year Division II-A TSSAA Substate qualifier. An AP Scholar with Distinction, Anika is a member of multiple honor societies and was the recipient of numerous academic awards including the Yale Book Award. She was a Girls State Delegate, A Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Delegate, a Junior Rotarian, served as a Junior Marshal, and was selected to attend Tennessee Governor’s School for the Sciences and Engineering in Knoxville.
"These two seniors are part of USJ's National Merit alumni that dates back to 1973. This program not only provides scholarships but also aids these students in their acceptance to schools and programs with selective admissions requirements," says Director of College Advising Carol Ryan.
Over 142 USJ students have received National Merit Recognition awards since 1973.
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