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Last modified: Thursday, August 21, 2008

60 National Merit Scholars among IU Bloomington's 2008 incoming freshmen

August 21, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- When Indiana University opens its Bloomington residence halls Wednesday (Aug. 27) for Move-In Day, 60 National Merit Scholars representing nine states will arrive on the campus in anticipation of collegiate careers that will launch officially when classes begin Tuesday, Sept. 2.

"I am looking forward to learning new things during the next four years, meeting new people and seeing how I grow as an individual," said Claire Oppy, of McCutcheon High School in Lafayette, Ind. One of the state of Indiana's 221 National Merit Scholars, she plans on majoring in international studies and Spanish at IU, a university noted for its language and culture studies.

Claire Oppy

Claire Oppy

"Indiana University was my first choice of schools," Oppy said. "I always have been interested in languages, and IU teaches more languages than almost any university you can attend. It's also reasonably close to home and the campus is absolutely beautiful."

As a group, Oppy and her National Merit Scholar peers entering IU represent nine states. They have an average high school GPA of 4.26 and an average SAT score of 1483. Each scholar represents approximately one half of the top 1 percent of their respective state's 2008 graduating seniors.

"We are excited at the promise these 60 National Merit Scholars bring to Indiana University. They are among the most academically gifted and motivated students in the nation, and we are thrilled they have chosen IU as their university," said Karen Hanson, IU Bloomington provost and executive vice president.

"We look forward to welcoming them, along with our other freshmen, to campus as they come together to form one of IU's largest and most competitive freshman classes ever. Our goal is that all of our incoming freshmen will achieve their academic dreams, and we on the Bloomington campus will strive to provide the support that will enable them to do so," Hanson said.

This group of National Merit Scholars is part of IU's 2008-2009 freshman class, expected to be not only IU's largest ever class, but also its most academically gifted and one of its most diverse groups. Having earned numerous scholarships, these students each come to IU this fall with an average of $13,609.

"We are very pleased to have such an outstanding class of National Merit Scholars joining the IU family this fall," said Sarah Booher, director of scholarships at IU in the Office of Enrollment Management. "These students have achieved great academic success in high school and will continue that success at IU on the Bloomington campus."

Indiana University offers a $4,000 scholarship -- $1,000 per year, renewable for four years -- to all students who are National Merit finalists and list IU as their first college choice through the National Merit Scholarship Corp. Many in this group of National Merit Scholars also have received IU's most prestigious scholarships, including the Herbert Presidential Scholarship, the Wells Scholarship, the Cox Research Scholarship and the Hudson and Holland Scholarship. Seven of the scholars were also Valedictorian Award winners.

National Merit Scholarship Program

This year's competition for National Merit Scholarships began in the fall of 2006 when more than 1.4 million high school juniors in over 21,000 schools across the nation took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. In September 2007, some 16,000 semifinalists were named on a state representational basis, in numbers proportional to each state's percentage of the national total of high school graduating seniors. Semifinalists were the highest-scoring program entrants in each state and represented less than 1 percent of a state's seniors.

To advance to the finalist level, semifinalists had to meet additional requirements. In addition to submitting a detailed scholarship application, which included an essay describing activities, interests and goals, they had to have an outstanding academic record, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, and earn SAT scores that confirmed the qualifying test performance. About 15,000 semifinalists became finalists, and more than half that group -- approximately 8,300 -- were chosen to recieve National Merit Scholarships.

Established in 1955 to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program, NMSC is a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance. The majority of National Merit Scholarships offered each year are underwritten by some 500 independent corporate and college sponsors that support NMSC's efforts to honor the nation's scholastic talent and encourage academic excellence at all levels of education.

For additional information on the National Merit Scholarship Program, go to

2008 National Merit Scholars entering IU by state:

Illinois -- John Raymond Brown II, Loves Park; Stephanie Elizabeth Heilers, Wheaton

Indiana -- Eric Bradley Anderson, Munster; Erika Cannon Anderson, Bloomington; Rachel Elizabeth Bennett, Evansville; Vasundhara Bhargava, Fort Wayne; Michele Nicole Boulais, Indianapolis; Marshall Shove Brown, Zionsville; Nicole Erin Budzynski, Carmel; Tyler Douglas Chernesky, Fort Wayne; Stephen Paul Colvill, Columbus; Katelyn Suzanne Colvin, Bloomington; Megan Corinne Connor, Bloomington; Stephen James Englert, Zionsville; Tara Marina Fleming, Fishers; Amy Katherine Fuhs, Munster; Brad Griesenauer, Plainfield; Karys Jayne Grundman, Fort Wayne; Christopher Darold Hamman, Warsaw; Ian Philip Hansen, Indianapolis; Nicholas Ryan Huster, Carmel; Eric Jay Hutson, Crawfordsville; Alexandra M. Jacobsen, Carmel; Andrew Bradley Johnson, Munster; Ian Stackhouse Kaelble, Indianapolis; Susan Kay Keen, Indianapolis; Meredith Anne Kipp, Noblesville; Nina M. Kovalenko, Noblesville; Jana Michelle Kovich, Schererville; Charles Clemens Krull, Munster; Trevor Martin Leslie, Indianapolis; Grant Libing Lin, Indianapolis; Kimberly Lorraine Long, Munster; Hillary Edith MacBain, Carmel; Amy Ann Maxwell, Indianapolis; William Andrew McCarthy, Indianapolis; Sean Robert Moore, Georgetown; Rebekah Joy Niedner, Valparaiso; Mark Edward O'Dell, LaPorte; Claire Eileen Oppy, Lafayette; Tessa Lorraine Qualkinbush, Indianapolis; Nathaniel Alan Ralstin, Zionsville; Kate Marie Sanders, Valparaiso; Ronak Shah, Indianapolis; Stephen Andrew Szrom, Valparaiso; Sara Marie Takacs, Indianapolis; Tarlise Noelle Townsend, Bloomington; Lauren Anne Waterman, Carmel; Colin Ernest Watson, Carmel; Chuyou Charles Zhang, Greenwood

Kansas -- Joe Elijah McIlvain, Madison

Kentucky -- Richard William Gottbrath III, Louisville

Michigan -- Grace Madeleine Saunders, Ann Arbor

New Jersey -- Jacek Nicholas Skryzalin, Cherry Hill

Ohio -- Elizabeth Jo Kent, Maumee; Caroline Anna Wong, Cincinnati

Tennessee -- Rebecca Morgan Boller, Collierville; Olivia Blair Wafler, Memphis; Rachel Anne Schoumacher, Memphis

Virginia -- Rose Marie Fraser, Woodbridge