Each of the 2,500 winners, selected among a pool of 15,000 applicants, will receive $2,500 to go toward undergraduate studies.
National Merit winners were selected by a committee of educators based on academic skills and accomplishments.
Students enter the competition as high school juniors when they take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Those who advance from semifinalists to finalists are judged on academic record, school official recommendations, SAT scores, contribution and leadership activities and an essay.
Local winners of the 2012 National Merit Scholarship are:
-Elijah Coleman: homeschool. Probable career field: education
-Jarreth Caldwell: A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet School. Probable career field: undecided
-Katherine Bollag: Lakeside High School. Probable career field: Veterinary research
-William Victor: Aiken High School. Probable career field: Education
-Courtney Gantt: Silver Bluff High School. Probable career field: Computer science/graphic design