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January 10, 2011
By Natalie Savidge
One of this year’s new National Merit Scholars, Andrew Zoll, a graduate of Northwest Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas, is now a psychology major at the University of Nevada, Reno. He chose the University over other options because of “extra time in research labs, entrance into the Honors Program and a guaranteed room in the best dorm on campus.”
“The University is a pretty great place for a National Merit Scholar,” Zoll said. “So many of the students are helpful and welcoming, and it's great to be in an atmosphere where a lot of kids are really focused on their schooling.”
The campus’ welcome mat extended for National Merit Scholars recently became noticeably larger, with the news in December that the Nell J. Redfield Foundation has committed $750,000 to support the University of Nevada, Reno National Merit Scholars. The Redfield Foundation will sponsor a total cohort of 20 National Merit Scholars beginning this fall, with the potential to make this an ongoing program.
“We are tremendously grateful to the Redfield Foundation for their generosity and commitment to our efforts to recruit National Merit Scholars,” said University President Milt Glick. “These highly qualified students will join other bright students in contributing to the campus atmosphere and learning environment. Most important, as graduates of the University they will contribute to the state’s future success.”
Meeting the challenge
When Glick joined Nevada in 2006, he issued a challenge to recruit more National Merit Scholars. As an acknowledgement of success toward this goal, the University was granted sponsorship status in 2009 by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, which requires each sponsoring school to award at least three National Merit Scholarships each year. The University welcomed 10 new National Merit Scholars this semester, bringing the University’s total to 38, the largest number ever enrolled at Nevada.
Scholarships awarded through the National Merit Program are regarded as some of the highest and most prestigious academic honors attainable by U.S. high school students. The scholarship awarded at Nevada is $15,000 per year for four years of undergraduate study, and covers tuition, fees, automatic entry into the Honors Program, room and board in the Honors Residential Scholars Community, a living-learning community in Argenta Hall, and books. Undergraduate research and University Studies Abroad Consortium experiences are also available.
Each year about 1.5 million high school juniors enter the National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which serves as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of National Merit semifinalists, which represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. About 90 percent of semifinalists attain finalist standing.
The Nell J. Redfield Foundation has been a major benefactor to the University for decades, including substantial support for the William N. Pennington Health Sciences Building, currently under construction, and the Nell J. Redfield Foundation Auditorium in the Davidson Mathematics and Science Center. The Redfield Foundation provides support for Nevada women’s athletics programs and the Orvis School of Nursing Student Outreach Clinic, and is the primary backer of the Redfield Campus, a unique, ambitious plan to provide higher education alternatives to students throughout northern Nevada.
For more information about the National Merit Scholarship Program, visit National Merit.