Return to Headlines

2024 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

Sept. 13, 2023

ROGERS, Ark. -  Eight Rogers Public Schools students have earned the distinguished title of National Merit Semifinalists in the 69th annual National Merit Scholarship program: Elijah Anderson (RHS), Mason Buras (RHS), Brett Gaffney (HHS), Benjamin Goolsby (RHS), Carson Jackson (HHS), Ethan McCrary (HHS), Nicholas Robinson (RHS) and Joshua Smart (HHS).

Over 1.3 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2022 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen for program entrants. After that test, 16,000 students were selected as National Merit Semifinalists. Those selected represent less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors.

The seven RPS seniors can continue in the competition for some 7,140 National Merit Scholarships worth about $28 million that will be offered next spring. Nationwide, about 95 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists will win National Merit Scholarships, earning the Merit Scholar title.

To become a finalist, the students and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT or ACT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

The students are in competition for one of 7,140 National Merit Scholarships worth a total of nearly $28 million. About 95% of semifinalists will gain finalist standing, and another half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship.

National Merit Semifinalists

Meet our semifinalists

Elijah Anderson: Anderson hopes to have his education soar at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. A book on the P-51 Mustang at a young age established Anderson's love of flight. Anderson gives Catherine Suski credit for much of his high school success.

Mason Buras: Buras is planning to attend the University of Arkansas after graduation to pursue a degree in computer science. But her education plans don't stop there -- she hopes to continue with a law degree. Buras also has author aspirations of writing young adult fantasy. She even has a book already started with hopes to have it published before her 18th birthday.

Brett Gaffney: Gaffney looks to study finance and marketing with a career in business leadership. Right now, she has a list of possible colleges, including the University of Arkansas, Texas Christian University, the University of Georgia, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University.

Benjamin Goolsby: While still open to other options, Goolsby is currently looking to attend the University of Arkansas in the field of engineering. Goolsby has been math-focused throughout his education and thinks either electrical engineering or mechanical engineering could further that passion. He says Tiffany Taylor helped push his joy for physics. Goolsby credits his 5th-grade teacher, Brandi Clowers, as an inspiration in his educational journey.

Carson Jackson: Jackson is hoping to become a history teacher. His potential schools include Colorado State University and the University of Arkansas. He credits TJ Moss as his inspiration.

Ethan McCrary: McCrary, a wrestling state champion, has aspirations to attend the Air Force Academy or the U.S. Military Academy West Point. McCrary is still exploring his options for a major. McCrary, who comes from a military family, wants to serve his country.

Nicholas Robinson: Robinson hopes to study computer science and has a list of colleges including Georgia Institute of Technology, Rice University and North Carolina State University. Nicholas has always enjoyed coding and credits Jeff Anderson at RHS and Marcus Board at Elmwood for his educational success.

Joshua Smart: Smart is currently planning to attend the University of Arkansas to study physics and astrophysics. His fascination with outer space and black holes started at a young age and has grown with his time in Rogers Schools.