Spears named National Merit Semifinalist

Published 12:48 am Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Andalusia High School senior Zoza Grace Spears was recently named a 2011 National Merit Semifinalist.

Spears is one of the about 1.5 million juniors in some 22,000 high schools who entered the program by taking the 2009 P reliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying, which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

Spears said it’s an honor to be a semifinalist and it’s something she’s thought a lot about.

“I’m really excited,” she said.

“If I go to Alabama, I can get full tuition, room and board, $1,000 a year, a one-time use of $2,000 for study abroad and a laptop,” she said.

Spears said she’s also been tossing around Yale and Georgetown.

Spears plans to major in political science and a foreign language – “probably Russian.”

“I’d like to work in the government,” she said. “I want to go to law school and work in international law for the government.

“I think I watched too much JAG when I was little. I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer,” she said. “I went to Europe over spring break and it really enhanced my desire to travel for business.”

Spears said she has already taken French and Spanish and is in the process of taking German right now.

Spears is well on her way to earning her bachelor’s degree. When she graduates from AHS in May, she’ll have about 18 college credit hours.

The nationwide pool of semifinalists, which represents less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest scores entrants in each state.

To become a finalist, a semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by the high school principal, and earn SA scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

Spears said she is required to take the SAT. Spears scored the equivalent of a 2100 on the PSAT.

“That’s the next step,” she said. “By February, I’ll find out if I’m a finalist or if the road stops.”

Approximately 15,000 semifinalists are expected to advance to the finalist level and it is from this group that all National Merit Scholarship winners will be chosen.

Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.

National Merit Scholarship winners of 2011 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July.

Spears is also active at school. She’s copy editor for the yearbook staff; a Peer Helper; Literary Club member, and an Usher Club member.

She also writes songs,

“I’m a big music person,” she said. “I have been teaching children’s choir.”

She also works after school at Woodard, Patel and Sledge.

“I’m finding out more about the court system,” she said.