Two QCHS seniors recognized by National Merit Scholarship Program for 2022

Two Quakertown Community High School seniors have been rec­og­nized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation for their excep­tion­al aca­d­e­m­ic promise.

Avinash Paul qual­i­fied as a semi­fi­nal­ist in the pres­ti­gious pro­gram for 2022 while Avadar Brownlee achieved the sta­tus of a Commended Student.

Students entered the National Merit Scholarship Program, a nation­wide com­pe­ti­tion for recog­ni­tion and awards con­duct­ed by National Merit Scholarship Corporation, by tak­ing the 2020 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test offered in October 2020 and January 2021. Of the more than 1.6 mil­lion stu­dents who took the exam, the 50,000 high­est scor­ers are being rec­og­nized. Approximately 16,000 of those high per­form­ers were recent­ly des­ig­nat­ed National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists. The next 34,000 achieve Commended Student status.

Avinash rep­re­sents less than 1 per­cent of U.S. high school seniors. His remark­able 1490 score on the 2020 Preliminary SAT gives him the oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­tin­ue in the com­pe­ti­tion for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth near­ly $30 mil­lion that will be offered next spring. Avadar scored 1400 on the PSAT, just out­side of the top 1 percent.

Both Avinash and Avadar are out­stand­ing stu­dents, and I’m very proud of both of them for tremen­dous accom­plish­ments,” Principal Mattias van’t Hoenderdaal said. “Their achieve­ments are a tes­ta­ment to their hard work, and the out­stand­ing job our teach­ers are doing in the class­room. During their high school years, these stu­dents have chal­lenged them­selves with college-level cours­es to help them dis­cov­er their inter­ests and devel­op their skillsets. Both are fine exam­ples for our stu­dents to follow.”

Avinash, who has a 4.2 GPA, scored 1590 out of a pos­si­ble 1600 on his SAT. “I was one math ques­tion away,” he said. 

Avinash has lofty goals. He’s applied to Amherst, Brown, Colgate, Haverford, Penn State, Vassar and William & Mary. Whichever school he attends will have accept­ed him into its accel­er­at­ed med­ical pro­gram, he said. 

I’m not sure what kind of doc­tor I’ll be,” he said, “but I want to study neuroscience.”

Avadar’s list of class­es allows no time for seniori­tis. She is tak­ing six AP class­es this year: Environmental Science, Computer Science Principles, Calculus BC, European History, Government and Literature. By the end of the school year, she will have com­plet­ed 14 college-level cours­es in her time at QCHS

Picking class­es in sub­jects you have an inter­est in, even if it’s hard, helps you stay moti­vat­ed,” she said. “If you enjoy learn­ing, it makes it a lot easier. 

I real­ly appre­ci­ate hav­ing been giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to explore my own inter­ests and still have rig­or­ous class­es. I’ve had options to take mul­ti­ple math and his­to­ry APs. I’ve tak­en elec­tive busi­ness class­es to explore spe­cif­ic busi­ness top­ics. Even if it’s some­thing you end up not lik­ing, I fig­ure at least I know I don’t want to take that in college.”

And speak­ing of life after QCHS, Avadar is includ­ing some well-known names in her col­lege appli­ca­tions. The list includ­ed Tufts, Boston College, Princeton (her mom is an alum­na, “It’s my dream school.”) and Yale (“maybe even more of a reach.”)

Since tak­ing the qual­i­fy­ing test, Avadar’s scores have risen. She recent­ly reached 1500 on the SAT. Her cur­rent GPA is 4.3.

In recent years, QCHS has been well rep­re­sent­ed by National Merit Scholars who advanced from semi­fi­nal­ist to final­ist. Last year it was Michael Dennis. In 2020 it was Melissa Nong. The pri­or year Mikayla Fuentes and Adria Retter each achieved the rare designation.

Each year, stu­dents who just missed the semi­fi­nal­ist lev­el received a Letter of Commendation for their out­stand­ing per­for­mance on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Last year, Matt Catalano and Veronika Durr each received a let­ter. In 2020, Ian Cummings, Tyler Einolf and Sierra Lee, each received a let­ter. In 2019, Nam Le and Hailey Reiss were commendable.