Senior Damian Oven Is National Merit Scholarship Finalist


Photo taken by Kaleigh Strong.

“It’s exciting [to qualify], but I kind of forgot about it because you have to wait three or four months after you apply [to find out if you’re a finalist],” said senior Damian Oven, who applied for the National Merit Scholarship Program and earned the title of one of three CAHS finalists.

The National Merit Scholarship program is a nationwide scholarship competition that recognizes semifinalists and finalists for outstanding scores on tests such as the PSAT and SAT. The program also recognizes students for other outstanding academic and extracurricular accomplishments.

In order to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship program, students must gain an exemplary score on the PSAT before they can submit an application. “You have to take the PSAT, and then a few months after, you submit an application with a [personal] essay and your SAT score,” said Oven. Among those who take the PSAT, only the top 1% of students are told that they are allowed to apply for the prestigious scholarship program.

Throughout the application process, Oven found solace in remembering that the scholarship isn’t the most important thing in the world. “It’s just one scholarship. It is nice, but it’s not everything,” said Oven.

For Oven, finding out he had advanced to a finalist has provided him with many college opportunities. “It was a good feeling [to find out I was a finalist because if you’re just a semifinalist they don’t give you scholarships,” said Oven. “[although my family] was probably more excited than I was.”  

Since becoming a finalist, Oven has received an acceptance letter from the University of Oklahoma, which “has the most national scholars of any college because they give them a full scholarship. If I decide to go there [I would get a full ride scholarship].”

Although the National Merit Scholarship Program offers scholarship assistance for finalists, not all colleges offer scholarships to National Merit Scholars. “The amount of scholarships depend on what college you go to. Some colleges will give you full ride [scholarships], and some won’t give you anything,” said Oven.

As far as advice goes, Oven encourages students that hope to advance in the program to focus on studying for statewide tests. “The hardest part [of the competition] is taking the PSAT, so if you get a good score on that you’re pretty good. [My advice is] if you really want the scholarship, study for the PSAT.”


Danielle Pigeon contributed reporting.