The top three percent

BVH student Giselle Geering places amongst the top 3% of PSAT scores


Cherise Magtoto

On Oct. 28, BVH Interim Principal Lee Romero visited room 703 to give senior Giselle Geering a letter of commendation. Students in 703 begin to cheer as Romero explains what the letter contained.

Subtle chatter permeates room 703 while students prepare for a speech and debate tournament. For many of these students, being awarded a major scholarship would be a great achievement. But for one of these students, this was a reality. On Oct. 28, Bonita Vista High (BVH) Speech and Debate president and senior Giselle Geering received a letter of commendation from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), which is only awarded to students who place among the top 50,000 out of around 1.5 million students in the nation who take the Preliminary SAT (PSAT).

“The student that [received the scholarship] was based on their PSAT test [score] and she’s [part of the] top 50,000 students in the entire nation that took the test in 2021,” BVH Interim Principal Lee Romero said.

Being commended for the National Merit Scholarship (NMS) is a heavy feat due to its selective nature, thus reaping many benefits. Listing this status on a college application will be a great plus and open more opportunities within college as only a few thousand students in the entire nation get commended for this scholarship.

“Very few students have this distinction. When she’s [applying] to colleges, they’re going to take note and she can say that ‘I was a recipient of the National Merit Scholarship,’ so it’s just going to open doors for her and I think that’s a good thing,” Romero said.

I think it just highlights a student that works hard. Working hard pays off and it gets recognized by people

— BVH Interim Principal Lee Romero

Although it is still a great honor to be a commended student, it does not reward the student with the actual scholarship. While that may seem counterintuitive, commended students still gain positive benefits such as being eligible for other scholarships from various corporations or businesses.

Being named a Commended Student is a lofty feat in itself, however, it does not move students on to the National Merit Competition. She may still be eligible for other sponsored scholarships,” BVH counselor Reynila Calderon-Magbuhat said.

Applying to University of California (UC) schools and being accepted is notoriously difficult due to the competitive nature of the application process, which is where scholarships such as the NMS come in handy. Geering plans to apply to these schools and military academies, adding her commendation to her applications to help her stand out amongst the thousands of other applicants.

“I am applying to the Military Academies Air Force Academy, the United States Military Academy at West Point, Columbia, University of California San Diego, San Diego State University and Yale,” Geering said.

Geering considers scholarships to be highly important, adding that spending time and effort to earn them is worthwhile. Scholarships are integral to applying and going to college as they assist in paying for expenses and fees that would have otherwise been paid for by a student. 

“I think that scholarships are something that are widely looked over for high school students, especially [for] seniors. We’re so focused on college applications that we forget that once we get into college we have to pay for it somehow,” Geering said. “Scholarships are really important. I definitely recommend people to start applying to scholarships since they also look good on your college application.”

Not only does this scholarship display a student’s hard work but it also highlights the school’s efforts at fostering academic excellence and growth. This links with the factor that has been found to be uncommon for schools to have a student that is recognized for the NMS.

“I think it just highlights a student that works hard. Working hard pays off and it gets recognized by people,” Romero said. “Sometimes when you work hard, no one notices, but when you get something like this, I feel like you have to celebrate it and congratulate the person because it’s a big achievement and no one really knows about it.”