Upshur student a National Merit semifinalist


BUCKHANNON — Maria Gjolberg, a homeschooled high school senior in Buckhannon, has been named a semifinalist in the 67th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Gjolberg’s family has experience with National Merit success, as her oldest brother, Kyle Gjolberg, was a 2010 National Merit Finalist and Merit Scholar, and her oldest sister, Mercy (Gjolberg) Sullivan, was a 2015 National Merit Finalist.

Maria has received recognition for her national exam scores before. She was also a 2020 Classic Learning Test Regional Scholar, which means she scored in the top 5% of her geographic region, including 12 states in the Southeast region of the United States.

During her high school years, she has received gold medals for her performance on the National Latin Exam, which is administered by the American Classical League. This test is given every March to Latin students across the United States and around the world.

Maria is the daughter of Skip and Donna Gjolberg. Skip is the president of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Buckhannon, and Donna is a homeschool teacher and an educational consultant for Mother of Divine Grace School based in Ojai, California.

Maria is being honored for her academic achievement on the PSAT, a preliminary college entrance exam. About 900,000 juniors from across the nation entered the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2020 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

From this pool of students, approximately 16,000 were chosen as Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of high school seniors in the United States and including only the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

These Semifinalists will now compete for Finalist status, and from that select group, about half will receive National Merit Scholarships and become Merit Scholars.

To become a Finalist, each student must submit a detailed application that includes information about the Semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, leadership abilities, honors and awards received and employment.

Additionally, the student must have an academic endorsement and reference, compose an essay, and earn SAT or ACT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.


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