Upshur student, semi-finalist of the National Merit | News, Sports, Jobs



BUCKHANNON – Maria Gjolberg, a home-schooled high school student in Buckhannon, has been named a semi-finalist in the 67th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Gjolberg’s family have experience with National Merit success, as his older brother, Kyle Gjolberg, was a 2010 National Merit finalist and Merit Fellow, and his older sister, Mercy (Gjolberg) Sullivan, was finalist for national merit in 2015.

Maria has already been recognized for her results in national exams. She was also a 2020 Classic Learning Test Regional Fellow, meaning she scored in the top 5% of her geographic region, including 12 states in the Southeastern region of the United States.

During her high school years, she received gold medals for her performance on the National Latin Exam, which is administered by the American Classical League. This test is given every March to Latin students in the United States and around the world.

Maria is the daughter of Skip and Donna Gjolberg. Skip is the president of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Buckhannon, and Donna is a home teacher and educational consultant for the Mother of Divine Grace School based in Ojai, California.

Maria is honored for her academic achievement on the PSAT, a preliminary college entrance exam. About 900,000 juniors from across the country have entered the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program by passing the qualifying test for the 2020 SAT / National Merit Preliminary Scholarship.

From that pool of students, approximately 16,000 were chosen as semi-finalists, representing less than one percent of high school students in the United States and including only the participants with the highest scores in each state.

These semi-finalists will now compete for finalist status, and of this selected group, approximately half will receive National Merit Scholarships and become Merit Scholars.

To become a finalist, each student must submit a detailed application that includes information on the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, leadership abilities, honors and awards received, and employment.

In addition, the student must have academic approval and reference, write an essay, and achieve SAT or ACT scores that confirm the student’s prior performance on the qualifying test.

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