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Freshman class to include four National Merit scholars

RELEASED: June 2, 2010

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

The scholars are Rachel Daily, Brookfield, majoring in elementary education; Angela Gutsmiedl, New London, majoring in nursing; Katelyn Meinholz, Waunakee, majoring in communication sciences and disorders; and Isaac Schemm, Eau Claire, majoring in computer science.

These most recent recipients of the prestigious scholarship bring the number of National Merit scholars attending UW-Eau Claire this fall to 27. UW-Eau Claire and UW-Madison are the only two schools in the UW System to officially participate in the National Merit Scholarship program. About 200 higher education institutions in the nation offer college-sponsored scholarships through the program.

UW-Eau Claire's National Merit scholars will receive 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.

More than 15,000 semifinalists advanced to the finalist level and approximately 8,400 were chosen to receive Merit Scholarship awards for 2010.

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.

She noted that the university's Honors Program is another attraction for National Merit scholars, who automatically qualify for the program. The program offers highly interactive classes with no more than 20 students as well as extracurricular opportunities to academically distinguished students who attend UW-Eau Claire.

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

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RD/DW

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