Named as a National Merit Scholarship Finalist in February, Wilton High School senior Nicholas Johnson was just awarded a college-sponsored National Merit Scholarship from Boston University, where Johnson will matriculate this fall.
The National Merit Scholarship program honors individual students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies. Johnson was one of six WHS students who were named National Merit finalists this year.
The announcement was made Tuesday, June 6, by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). Offcials of each sponsor college select their scholarship winners from among the Finalists in the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program who plan to attend their institution. These awards provide between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at the institution financing the scholarship.
In addition, because he was a National Merit Finalist, Boston University also awarded Johnson a Presidential Scholarship, an honor awarded to fewer than 5% of the school’s incoming freshman.
“I’m honored to be a National Merit Scholar and I look forward to attending Boston University this fall, where I will be studying mechanical engineering with an aerospace concentration. I hope to one day work at NASA or SpaceX as part of the mission control team, or even become an astronaut,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s academic achievements were recognized by the Wilton Chapter of the National Honor Society, which inducted him in the fall of his junior year. He also has been a member of the Wilton Model Congress all four years at WHS, and has won Best Legislation, Best Speaker and Best Delegate awards at several Model Congress conferences.
Outside of school, Johnson has been involved with Boy Scouting since the first grade. He achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in December, 2015; his Eagle Project was building a tool shed for the Wilton Garden Club at Trackside Teen Center. He was also a member of the first Ambler Farm trebuchet team, and was part of the original group that helped build the pumpkin-throwing trebuchet, which launches every Ambler Farm Day and Thanksgiving.
Johnson has also been involved in local politics and municipal government. He worked as a personal assistant on Wilton first selectman Lynne Vanderslice’s campaign when she ran for office in 2015, and has volunteered for Wilton’s state senator Toni Boucher.
Over 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2017 National Merit Scholarship competition when they took the 2015 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. Last fall, approximately 16,000 Semifinalists were named on a state-representational basis in numbers proportional to each state’s percentage of the national total of graduating high school seniors. Semifinalists were the highest-scoring program entrants in each state and represented less than 1.0% of the nation’s high school seniors.
To compete for Merit Scholarship awards, Semifinalists first had to advance to the Finalist level of the competition by fulfilling additional requirements. Each Semifinalist was asked to submit a detailed scholarship application, which included writing an essay and providing information about extracurricular activities, awards and leadership positions. Semifinalists also 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. From the Semifinalist group, some 15,000 met requirements for Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists will be Merit Scholarship winners in 2017.