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UW-Eau Claire Freshman Class to Include
Eight New National Merit Scholars

RELEASED: June 23, 2008

EAU CLAIRE — Eight of the approximately 2,025 new freshmen enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire this fall are National Merit scholars, according to Kristin Blake, an admissions counselor.

These most recent recipients of the prestigious scholarship bring the number of National Merit scholars attending UW-Eau Claire this fall to 31, Blake said.

The eight scholars are Kali Bolyard, Whitefish Bay; Kurt Behlmer, Wauwatosa; Kaitlyn Heisick, St. Cloud, Minn.; James Harder, Green Bay; Abigail Chilsen, Onalaska; Dexter Davis, Middleton; Angela Hudson, Brookfield; and Katherine Zabronsky, Appleton.

There are three types of National Merit Awards: National Merit $2,500 Scholarships, corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarships and college-sponsored Merit Scholarships. Seven of the students received college-sponsored Merit Scholarships. They have been awarded full in-state tuition for four years by the university, to be funded by the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. Behlmer received a corporate-sponsored scholarship and will receive additional funds to supplement that scholarship.

Blake said high school students qualify for the scholarship competition by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which serves as an initial screen of program entrants. Last fall 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 more than half of this group, or approximately 8,200, were chosen to receive Merit Scholarship awards for 2008.

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

Blake 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 outstanding study abroad programs, service-learning and faculty-student collaborative research opportunities strongly appeal to these students," said Blake, adding that UW-Eau Claire's Honors Program is another attraction for National Merit scholars, who automatically qualify for the program.

Honors Program director Paul Hoff said the program offers highly interactive classes with no more than 20 students and extracurricular opportunities to academically distinguished students who attend UW-Eau Claire.

These eight new members bring the number of Honors Program students for fall to more than 400, Hoff said.

For more information about the National Merit scholarship at UW-Eau Claire, contact Blake at 715-836-5409 or blakeke@uwec.edu.

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KH

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