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Freshman Class Includes
Four Merit Scholars


RELEASED: Aug. 11, 2005

EAU CLAIRE — Four of the approximately 2,050 new freshmen enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire this fall are National Merit scholars who have been awarded full in-state tuition for four years by the university. The UW-Eau Claire Foundation funds the university-sponsored scholarships

The four scholars are Brandyn Churchill, Savage, Minn.; Jared Koerten, Plover; Graeme Lewis, Eau Claire; and Traci Marek, Maple Grove, Minn.

Churchill, a graduate of Prior Lake High School, expects to enter social work. Koerten, from Stevens Point Area High School, plans to enter the law field. Lewis, a graduate of Eau Claire Memorial High School, named psychology as his probable career field, and Marek, a graduate of Maple Grove High School, expects to enter the field of medicine.

Heather Kretz, from the Admissions Office, said these most recent recipients of the prestigious scholarship bring to 16 the number of National Merit scholars currently attending UW-Eau Claire.

High school students qualify to win the scholarships by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which serves as an initial screen of program entrants. Last September some 16,000 semifinalists were named on a state representational basis, in numbers proportional to each state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors. Semifinalists, who represent less than 1 percent of a state's seniors, were the only students who had an opportunity to continue in the competition by submitting a detailed scholarship application and meeting other requirements to advance to Finalist standing.

More than 15,000 semifinalists advanced to the finalist level, and approximately half of this group was chosen to receive Merit scholarship awards for 2005. Three types of awards are offered: National Merit Scholarship, corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship and college-sponsored Merit Scholarship.

UW-Eau Claire has participated in the program since 1982 and averages from three to eight college-sponsored Merit Scholarship recipients each year.

"UW-Eau Claire and UW-Madison are the only schools in the UW System that participate in the program," Kretz said.

Kretz attributes UW-Eau Claire's success in consistently attracting top students to the university’s strong liberal arts emphasis and the opportunities for students to pursue interests outside or complimentary to their academic majors.

UW-Eau Claire's Honors Program is another attraction for National Merit scholars, who automatically qualify for the program. Program director Paul Hoff said the Honors Program offers highly interactive classes with no more than 20 students and extracurricular opportunities to academically distinguished students who attend UW-Eau Claire.

These new members bring the number of Honors Program students for fall to 390, Hoff said.

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JW/JB

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