University named sponsor in National Merit Program

4/2/2009 - By: Natalie Savidge

The University of Nevada, Reno has been officially notified of its approval for sponsorship status by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. The University’s most prestigious scholarship awards entering freshmen students who are National Merit Finalists.

“We are pleased to have University of Nevada, Reno as a sponsor in the National Merit Scholarship Program which recognizes and honors the academically talented high school students of our nation,” said Jeffrey Little, vice president of administration of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

When University President Milton Glick joined Nevada in 2006, he issued a challenge to recruit more National Merit Scholars. Following a two-year effort to recruit these highly qualified and academically well-prepared students, Nevada now joins the sponsor schools included as part of recruitment materials sent to students across the country who are contending for National Merit Scholarships. Currently, nearly 300 corporations, company foundations and businesses and about 200 colleges and universities provide National Merit scholarships.

“Really bright students lift the level of the educational experience for everyone,” said University President Milton Glick. “As you achieve a critical mass of these students, teachers begin to teach differently. They have higher expectations and students respond accordingly.”

The University’s student body currently includes 17 National Merit Scholars, the largest number ever enrolled at Nevada. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation requires each sponsoring school to award at least three National Merit Scholarships each year.

Scholarships make a difference in the University’s ability to attract and retain the best and brightest students. Reno High School graduate and double English, French major, Leanne Howard, worked hard to earn her National Merit Scholarship and first-year sophomore status, but said it was worth it.

“I’m just really appreciative of the scholarship,” Howard said. “It’s done a lot of good for my family, and me, especially now when things are going so downhill economically. I’m definitely glad I’m here.”

The scholarship is $15,000 per year for four years of undergraduate study which covers tuition, fees, automatic entry into the Honors Program, room and board in the honors wing of Argenta Hall, and books. Undergraduate research and University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) experiences are also available.

“I like the honors program because I love being in smaller classes,” Howard reflected. “That’s really helpful, especially in courses like Core Humanities. I like having that discussion and the one-on-one with the teacher. So I’ve really liked it here so far.”

Fellow National Merit Scholar Kathleen Phelan agrees. She graduated from Green Valley High School in Las Vegas last year and decided to come to Reno to study psychology and philosophy.

“I decided for sure when I saw the campus,” said Phelan, who writes for the University’s student newspaper, The Nevada Sagebrush. “I love all the brick buildings; it looks very collegiate.”

High school students must have taken the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) to be eligible for selection as a National Merit Finalist. Scholarships awarded through National Merit programs are regarded as some of the highest academic honors attainable by U.S. high school students. Last year National Merit awarded scholarships valued at over $52 million to more than 10,800 qualified students.

“I had a few schools offering a full ride (scholarship) because of National Merit, but I’m happy with the University of Nevada, Reno,” Phelan said. “It’s been fairly easy to have the college experience I wanted and to get involved.”

For more information, visit the National Merit Scholarship Program or the University’s Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.


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