Seniors named National Merit Semifinalists

Natl_Merit_012Marist High School principal Larry Tucker recently announced that seniors Becca Valek and Monica Viz were named National Merit Semifinalists by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation in Evanston, Ill.

Valek (left), a St. Barnabas graduate, says she has a short list of colleges she is interested in, but is not committed to one yet. She is looking at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Vanderbilt University, and University of Pittsburgh. She plans to pursue a career in medicine. She started that path this summer through a research program with the University of Chicago, where she worked in the oncology department. Along with a challenging honors and Advanced Placement course load, Valek is involved in Marist’s theatre program, math team, Marist Youth service group, National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, and chorus.

Viz, who went to Saints Cyril and Methodius, plans on a career in the engineering field, and is looking at the University of Illinois at Champaign and Purdue University, among others. During her time at Marist she has been a four-year member of the cross country team and a four-year member of the school’s band, playing in the percussion section. She also competes for the Marist’s academic and math teams. Viz, too, carries an impressive load of Advanced Placement courses, and is a member of the school’s National Honor Society.

Both girls are a part of the school’s peer leadership program, an alternative senior year religion course in which they provide daily academic support to students in lower grade levels.

There are approximately 16,000 National Merit Semifinalists in the United States who emerge from a pool of nearly 1.5 million PSAT examinees. Valek and Viz are among Illinois’ top scorers and less than 1% of all PSAT takers in the nation receive this honor. They will find out if they are finalists in February. In the past five years, Marist has had 30 students recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.