Iraan High School senior Corbi Maurer is in an elite group of 16,000 students as a semifinalist vying to be one of 7,500 2019 National Merit Scholars in America.
She already stands alone in the Permian Basin as the region’s lone semifinalist for the highly-sought honor.
“I was quite surprised since West Texas is such a large portion of the state,” Maurer said.“The Permian Basin itself, I figured there’d be at least a few. Schools up in Dallas, there were several schools that had a numerous amount of scholars. I just figured with the big high schools like (Midland) Lee, at least a few more would be from here. Some schools had numerous scholars. I thought with scholls like Lee and Midland High, there’d be a couple.”
The Texas Academy of Math/Science in Denton had 75 semifinalists. Plano West had 62 and Austin’s Westwood High had 57.
Texas has more than 1,300 semifinalists. Maurer’s nearest fellow semifinalists are in Lubbock (7), El Paso (4), Abilene (2) and Kerrville (1).
She will find out in February if she is among the 15,000 finalists.
Maurer said she is planning to earn an accelerated Master’s degree in Petroleum Engineering. She is in the process of deciding which university to attend.
In all, 1.6 million students nationally apply for the program each year. The first hurdle is the PSAT taken during the junior year. Based on the test results, the top 16,000 – less than one percent of all applicants – advance to semifinalist status.
The pool is then thinned to 15,000 finalists, half of whom will go on to be named National Merit Scholars based on their senior-year SAT test, a personal essay, academic transcripts and activities and leadership roles.
In all, the process spans an applicant’s junior and senior years.
“In one word, it’s long,” she said. “It takes forever. Even just getting the score back takes longer than an SAT, and then just waiting and waiting. Once you hit the score, it’s pretty easy from there.”
The 7,500 winners receive a renewable yearly $2,500 scholarship. It is the recognition, however, that opens other academic and financial doors.
“I knew that there was money with the scholarships – I didn’t know how much ¬¬– and just the title itself can get you places,” she said. “I found out that the National Merit Scholarship is $2,500, which isn’t a lot compared to what school costs. But once you have that title of finalist, there are several schools that offer a full-ride or full-tuition.”
According to the governing body, the National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and college scholarships that began in 1955. High school students enter the National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which serves the initial screen of the approximately 1.6 million entrants each year.
Maurer has been taking dual-credit online classes as well as Advanced Placement classes at Iraan as a junior and senior. She has amassed more than 20 dual-credit units so far.
She also competed in cross country and compete in track in spring. She was a trainer for the varsity football team coached by her father, Corby Maurer.
Her father also is a math teacher, whom she credits for her love of the subject and her career path.
“I wanted a job with math because I’ve always loved math,” she said. “So, I started off looking at finance, but I said ‘no, that’s not something I want to do.
“Then we found engineering, but I really didn’t know which one. Living in Texas, and especially West Texas, the petroleum field interests me greatly. So, I started looking into that. So, I knew I wanted to an engineer. I just didn’t know which one.”