Two members of Walsingham Academy's Class of 2019 have been recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) – one as a semifinalist in the annual scholarship program.
Semifinalist Mary Catherine Chason, a Walsingham "lifer," is among approximately 16,000 students – just over 1 percent of PSAT exam takers -- competing for around 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million.
"It meant a lot to me that Walsingham values my education just as much as I do," Mary Catherine said.
To be considered for a Merit Scholarship, Mary Catherine must fulfill various requirements to reach the level of finalist. Around half of the finalists will win a scholarship and earn the title of Merit Scholar.
"Mary Catherine has such a thoughtful, reflective heart and mind," Upper School Director Angie Baker said. "It has been a joy to watch her grow and contribute to both the school and the greater community in her many areas of giftedness. She is a treasure that we proudly present to a waiting world."
Mary Catherine has been a member of the Williamsburg Youth Orchestra for six years as the principal bassist, performed in the band for the Walsingham spring musical during her freshman year and has acted in four fall dramas. She's also volunteered with Sentara at their wound-care clinic shadowing doctors, observing minor surgeries and cleaning up rooms.
She will soon be applying to various colleges and universities, including William & Mary, Princeton, Duke and the University of Virginia where she will study mathematics before moving on to a health field. She's looking forward to doing research, continuing to learn and expanding her horizons.
National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and ending in July.
Sam Masser was also recognized as a Commended Scholar by the NMSC, putting him in roughly the top 3 percent out of 1.6 million students.
"Sam has always been such an enthusiastic learner, bringing excitement and creativity to the classroom," Baker said. "I am eager to see which of his varied interests he will pursue in the future. I have no doubt that he will continue to make us proud."
Sam has attended Walsingham Academy since kindergarten. During his time at the academy he has participated in forensics team and four school plays. He also acts outside of school with Backstage Productions.
Sam says Walsingham provided him with a "clear progression path" to build him up to where he is now.
"From middle school, I could see options for after graduation," he said.
Those options include Washington and Lee University or the University of Richmond. Sam hasn't settled on an undergraduate focus yet but plans on attending law school afterwards.