Senior Rachel Howard Is National Merit Finalist


Photo credit Crystal Sung.

Crystal Sung, Editor in Chief

“I was the smart kid who knew the answers to all the questions, but didn’t have a lot of friends,” said National Merit Finalist Rachel Howard of her freshman self.

With her PSAT score of 1500, Howard is one of two CAHS seniors to receive this recognition.

As someone who has always been “pretty solid” academically, Howard thought “the PSAT wasn’t all that hard. I felt like the questions were a lot easier than the [ones the] year before.”

When asked what made her National Merit application stand out from others, Howard is unsure. “If anything stood out about me, it’s probably just the academics. I’m pretty smart, so my grades reflect that. The essay was probably somewhat unique, but a lot of people probably have more unique stuff they write about, too …  so I don’t know.”

As for extracurriculars, Howard has dabbled in soccer and swim, but stuck with journalism. Since joining in sophomore year, Howard continued to stay on staff every year, and is the current Editor in Chief of the yearbook.

In her essay for National Merit, she identifies the most powerful moment of her life as helping “run this character development camp for young kids” in China for two weeks this past summer. Howard was “really touched” by the cultural experience; not only did she come to understand a very different culture, but she also recalls with delight the kids’ curiosity for all things American.

Howard feels that her high school experience has been relatively smooth, though there are some little things she wishes she could change: “I would … try fostering deeper relationships with people a little earlier, because my freshman year I just stayed in my shell a lot.” It wasn’t until sophomore year that she found her niche outside of academics in the journalism staff.

To aspiring National Merit students, Howard emphasizes the importance of studying. Though it’s “kind of ironic because I don’t really study very much … do what I say, not as I do.” She also adds with a wry chuckle that she should not have “forgotten the weekly quizzes in Geometry all the time.”

In the long run, the effort “pays off … you learn things, and you get good grades, which opens up all kinds of opportunities.” For Howard, receiving National Merit Finalist is more a validation of her hard work and drive than anything else.


Disclosure: Howard is on the journalism staff.