FAIRFIELD — Two local students are the sole county semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Corporation program.
Among the 16,000 U.S. semifinalists are Yixuan Zheng from Armijo High School and Andrew Pirondini from Vanden High School.
Both students have the opportunity to continue competing for the 8,000 merit scholarships worth about $35 million that will be offered next spring, according to a press release.
For Pirondini, 17, a Vacaville resident, the money will help him fulfill the dream of attending either California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo or California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
“If I could get into Cal Tech, that would be awesome,” Pirondini said.
Pirondini, who wants to major in computer engineering, said he has maintained straight A’s through high school.
“Getting good grades is important to getting into a good college and being successful,” he said.
If he wins, the scholarship money would be used because he said right now he doesn’t “really have a way to fund an expensive college.”
Zheng, also a senior, said he found out recently from his high school counselor. He’s got a packet of materials to go through and fill out, he said. That will be done with the counselor next week.
He would like to get into Stanford or the University of California, Los Angeles and major in biology or biomedical engineering.
“Eventually I hope to become a medical doctor of some sort,” he said.
Like the other semifinalists, Pirondini and Zheng entered the 2014 scholarship program when they took the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, which is the scholarship qualifying test. The semifinalists represent 1 percent of high school seniors and include the highest scoring entrants in each state.
From this point the semifinalist and the high school will submit a scholarship application that includes such things as academic record, school participation, community activities and leadership abilities. They must also write an essay and be recommended by a high school official, according to the press release.
Merit Scholarship winners are chosen from the field of finalists and will be announced from April through July.
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.