Senior Stella Kraus named 2020 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist


Photo credit: Grace Doyle

Stella Kraus of the class of 2020 is the only senior to be named as a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist. She participates in a multitude of STEM-related clubs and the soccer team, in addition to playing the piano.

Stella Kraus found out she was a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist by aimlessly searching results for her name on Google. She saw an image with a picture of American flags and was taken to an article with a list of semifinalists. She was later emailed by Associate Director of College Guidance Jee Won Lee formally informing her of her semifinalist status.

Kraus’ semifinalist status designates her as a scorer in the top 1% of test-takers nationwide. Of approximately 1.6 million students, about 16,000 students’ selection index scores qualify them to become National Merit Scholarship semifinalists.

As a member of the Archer community, Kraus participates in a variety of clubs and activities related to science. She specifically likes how the science classes “explain how the world works.” She said her involvement in outside activities contributed to her success on the PSAT.

Just do your best and don’t worry too much about [the PSAT]” Kraus said “Don’t judge your self worth on it.

“Piano has taught me how the sit for a long time and focus,” Kraus said, “and soccer has taught me discipline. Those two activities really help with test taking.”

At the Upper School Meeting on Sept. 18, Lee and Director of College Guidance Gabrielle Dorsey announced Kraus as a semifinalist, which Kraus had been informed about a week in advance.

“This accolade has much more to do with Stella than it does with Archer, but we are so proud of her,” Dorsey wrote in an email interview.

Kraus has been commended for her academic accomplishments, but her personality and character have made an impression as well, Lee said.

“She has a fascinating mind and wonderfully playful and eccentric worldview, which is what makes her so intriguing to spend time with,” Lee said.

To become a National Merit Finalist, Kraus must fill out an application with an essay, receive a recommendation from a high school principal and maintain a record of high academic performance throughout high school. In February, around 15,000 students will be notified of their finalist achievement, and approximately 7,500 of those finalists will receive a renewable scholarship of $2,500.

“I know there’s a lot of people who would have gotten it on a different day. A lot of it is just luck,” Kraus said. “Just do your best and don’t worry too much about [the PSAT]. Don’t judge your self-worth on it.”