Bulldog Tanner Mayfield Earns National Merit Semifinalist Status

KHS scholar Anna Jensen selected for commendation

Kearney, Mo., September 22, 2022: Kearney High School scholars continue to demonstrate that they lead the way in academic achievement.

KHS senior Tanner Mayfield learned last week that he has earned an elite designation as a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist. His classmate, Anna Jensen, received a National Merit Scholarship Letter of Commendation.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) selected just 16,000 Semifinalists in the 68th annual program. These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,250 scholarships worth nearly $28 million that will be offered next spring.

Tanner Mayfield

It took Mr. Mayfield a few minutes to comprehend what he was reading when the NMSC Semifinalist selection letter arrived at his Kearney home.

“Honestly, I didn’t really understand how prestigious it was, so I wasn’t sure how to react,” Mayfield said. “My parents were really happy about it, and I realized it’s a big deal, so I’m definitely happy.”

Mayfield and Ms. Jensen were honored for these NMSC recognitions by the KSD Board of Education on Wednesday evening at the central office. Principal Andy Gustafson noted that they are the 48th and 49th KHS students to be recognized by the NMSC since 1992.

“I’m excited to celebrate these two extraordinary Bulldog scholars,” KHS Principal Andy Gustafson said. “Tanner and Anna represent a long and ongoing tradition of academic excellence that we strive for at Kearney High School. We are all proud of them and inspired by their achievements.”

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, Semifinalists must fulfil several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. About 95 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and approximately half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

Anna Jensen

Jensen is joining about 34,000 other Commended Students who are being recognized by the NMSC for their exceptional academic promise, according to the organization. She manages to stay on top of her classes while simultaneously balancing playing in the KHS marching band drumline, competing as a member of the Girls Tennis squad and participating in Scholar Bowl.

Having a high-quality faculty and a good array of extracurricular activities are the biggest factors in student success at KHS, according to Jensen.

“We’ve got really helpful teachers at Kearney High School,” Jensen said. “They care about students as people and they go out of their way to support us in whatever ways they can. I also appreciate the fact that the school funds programs like Scholar Bowl. It makes a huge difference.”

Mayfield, who is on the KHS Boys Swim team, similarly complimented his KHS teachers.

“I’m interested in engineering, particularly chemical engineering,” he said. “The math teachers here are excellent and have done a great job of preparing me.”

High school juniors entered the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2021 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of Semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

To become a Finalist, the Semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the Semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT or ACT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2023. Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state-representational basis. About 950 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 180 corporations and business organizations for Finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. In addition, about 160 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 3,800 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.

National Merit Scholarship winners of 2023 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join nearly 368,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.