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UW-Eau Claire's Freshman Class to Include
Three New National Merit Scholars

RELEASED: July 27, 2009

EAU CLAIRE — Three of the approximately 2,000 new freshmen enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire this fall are National Merit scholars, according to Kristin Blake, an admissions counselor.

The three scholars are Luke Desilet, Oshkosh; Adam Schneider, Middleton; and Laurelyn Wieseman, Lake Geneva. Desilet will major in biochemistry/molecular biology, Schnieder will major in biology and Wieseman has not yet declared a major.

Sarah Hof, a National Merit semifinalist from Stillwater, will receive a National Merit 3M Corporate Scholarship. She will major in biochemistry/molecular biology.

These most recent recipients of the prestigious scholarship bring the number of National Merit scholars attending UW-Eau Claire this fall to 27, Blake said, noting that UW-Eau Claire and UW-Madison are the only two schools in the UW System to officially participate in the National Merit Scholarship program.

There are three types of National Merit Awards: National Merit $2,500 Scholarships, corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarships and college-sponsored Merit Scholarships. UW-Eau Claire's three National Merit scholars will receive 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.

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.

About 15,000 semifinalists advanced to the finalist level, and more than half of this group, or approximately 8,300, were chosen to receive Merit Scholarship awards for 2009.

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.

Program director Jefford Vahlbusch 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 three new members bring the number of Honors Program students for fall to 411, Vahlbusch said.

For more information about the National Merit scholars at UW-Eau Claire, contact Blake at 715-836-5409 or



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