2023 National Merit Scholarship Winners

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation recently announced that Greeley's LEA DUESTERWALD, CARLY GOOGEL, GABRIEL PALEY, SIRI REDDY and JUSTIN XIANG are National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winners. The 2,500 Merit Scholars were chosen from a pool of more than 15,000 finalists in the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program.

National Merit Scholarship winners are the finalists judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors, who appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by both the finalists and their high schools: the academic record, including difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from two standardized tests; contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the finalist; and a recommendation written by a high school official. (continued below)

National Merit Scholarship Winners

Lea is the esteemed co-president of the renowned Greeley Math Club, a distinguished member of the peer-to-peer tutoring program, and an advocate for beach and ocean protection through her affiliation with Greeley's Beach and Ocean Protection Club. 

After Greeley, Lea will continue her academic journey at Cornell University, where she will immerse herself in the field of computer science. She also aspires to make significant contributions to the cutting-edge field of artificial intelligence through a career in research in AI.

A 2023 Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholar, Carly is also a member of Greeley's Student Leadership Committee and is an executive council member of TedxYouth@HGHS. Additionally, Carly has been playing competitive table tennis since she was 8 years old and is currently nationally ranked. She is also a self-taught coder and is on the founding team of a new social media startup called WYA. 

Carly will attend the University of Pennsylvania where she will be enrolled in the Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology--a dual degree between the Wharton School of Business and the Engineering School. She plans to learn critical skills at the intersection of business and technology that would help with her ultimate goal of launching her own tech startup. "My fascination with human’s limited ability to perceive the universe makes me eager to advance technology to expand the capacity of the human mind," she explained. 

Gabriel stated he is grateful to have been a part of a mosaic of experiences across his time at Greeley. Whether pursuing environmental field work and volunteering with local sustainability groups, public speaking as a part of the Debate Club, or playing out in front of an audience for the HGHS chamber orchestra, Gabriel has always sought to live life with a full chest of exciting, novel pursuits having found that the world is most beautiful when experienced from as many mediums as possible. 

In the fall, Gabriel will study economics and computer science at Duke University and looks forward to co-mingling his passions for written language and quantitative analysis to study financial markets. After years of challenging math and science courses, he recently discovered the exciting, multifaceted world of stock picking. "I find it refreshing to engage in a field that doesn't have a single, definitive answer, but offers endless opportunities to learn," Gabriel said. "From studying human behavior patterns to exploring quantitative models, I look forward to furthering my knowledge in trading equities and potentially pursuing it as a career."

Siri is co-president of Greeley's Math Club and plans to attend Harvey Mudd College in September, where she is looking to study science or engineering.

At Greeley, Justin is involved in The Greeley Voice online school publication and was editor-in-chief of sports this past year. He was also a President of the Competitive Programming Club, an executive of the Asian and Pacific Islanders Association, and a member of Science Olympiad. He took part in the science research program winning awards for his work in applying Machine Learning to medicine and health, and was the lead trumpet in Stage Band and part of the All-County Jazz Band. In athletics, he was a three-year varsity soccer player and the team's leading goalscorer, and he joined the spring Track & Field Team for the first time this year, helping win League Championships for both sports.

His plans for life after Greeley include attending Cornell University majoring in Computer Science, and hopes to continue his science research and join an engineering project team while continuing to play sports in some form. "I'm not quite sure what I want to be when I grow up, but am looking forward to finding out," Justin said.

2023 National Merit Scholarship Competition
This year’s National Merit Scholarship Program began in October 2021 when over 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools took the PSAT/NMSQT, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than one percent of the nation’s high school seniors, were named Semifinalists on a state representational basis. Only these approximately 16,000 Semifinalists had an opportunity to continue in the competition.

From the Semifinalist group, some 16,000 students met the very high academic standards and other requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. By the conclusion of the 2023 program, about 7,500 Finalists will have earned the “Merit Scholar” title and received a total of nearly $30 million in college scholarships.