A student from Haywood Early College was named a semifinalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program, an organization that honors the nation’s scholastic champions and encourages the pursuit of academic excellence.
Elijah Ensley is one of 16,000 students across the nation selected for a chance to compete for more than $31 million in scholarships available through the organization.
The semifinalist list of academically talented high school seniors will be trimmed to 7,600 and about half of the finalists will win a scholarship and a National Merit Scholar title.
Ensley is a lifelong resident of Haywood County who attended Clyde Elementary and Canton Middle School. He has been at Haywood Early College since 9th grade and will graduate in May 2020 with an associate in engineering as well as a high school diploma.
He plans to attend a four-year university to study computer engineering.
“I’m interested in everything STEM, especially computer science and astronomy,” Ensley said in an email interview. “I enjoy coding, tinkering with electronics and stargazing in my free time. I also started a technology club at my school to learn and collaborate on projects with other students who are interested in coding and electronics.”
While uncertain about the type of career he will ultimately choose, Ensley is sure it will be one that allows him to contribute to scientific discovery and the application of science to help people.
Ensley was chosen for the semifinalist honor based on PSAT scores from his junior year. Semifinalists will advance to finalist level by submitting SAT or ACT scores that confirm their earlier PSAT performance, having an outstanding academic record and being endorsed by their school.
“As a semifinalist, I will also submit an application including extracurricular activities and a personal essay which will be used to select scholarship winners,” Ensley wrote. “Winning a National Merit Scholarship would help me in the process of starting my college education by making it more affordable, and it would be a prestigious honor to be recognized as a National Merit Scholar.”