Students win National Merit Scholarship

GLENDALE — Seven students from three Glendale Unified high schools were among the roughly 8,400 National Merit Scholarship award winners this year.

The scholarships range from $500 to $10,000 annually through the National Merit Scholarship, as well as corporate and college sponsors. All scholarships carry the prestige of the National Merit competition, but are distinguished by the source of funding, organizers said.

Julia Park, a Hoover High graduate, won a corporate scholarship from Northrop Grumman, while Crescenta Valley High alums Michelle Bae, Yoon Lee, Angela Oh, Sara Whang and Andrew Park, Jr. won college and National Merit funded scholarships.

Glendale High School graduate David Vartanyan won a $2,500 merit scholarship.

Lisa Reed taught Whang and Lee's second-year calculus course last year at Crescenta Valley High, and said the award is among the highest praise teenagers can receive.

"I think for them, it's that moment where someone is saying all of that work you've invested has paid off," she said. "You have distinguished yourself as being truly exceptional."

While students in that class were academic achievers, the students stood out for their insightful questions and curiosity, Reed said.

"They were always the first ones to class every morning, and it starts at 6:55 a.m.," Reed said.

Whang will enroll at USC and Lee at Northwestern University.

To be named a National Merit Scholar, and join a club that includes Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, requires an essay process, campus and community service activities, as well as recommendations from school officials and high SAT scores.

"I aspire to leave behind a legacy that hopefully at least equals that previous recipient," Crescenta Valley High alum Oh said in an e-mail. "I am truly honored."

Oh will begin USC this August, and have half of her tuition covered through the scholarship for four years.

Oh's likely profession is somewhere in medicine, according to her National Merit biography.

"I know that USC alumni, especially, have a lot of pride in USC and continue to stay involved in the lives of students far after graduation," Oh said. "I wanted to be a part of a network that includes people from all different places and professions."

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