Five Santa Barbara Unified Students Named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

By the Santa Barbara Unified School District

Seven students from Dos Pueblos, San Marcos, and Santa Barbara High Schools are semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship program.

High school juniors 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 of program entrants. 

The nationwide pool of 16,000 semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. 

The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors. 

“It is so impressive to receive this recognition of academic excellence. These students make us proud, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for them,” said Dr. Hilda Maldonado, Superintendent.

Winners at Dos Pueblos High School include Ajay Nandwana, Jay Miller, Victoria Chen, and Anastasia Li.

“Having these students earn this prestigious distinction makes us extremely proud, especially considering the disruption of their first two years of high school due to the pandemic,” said Bill Woodard, Principal of Dos Pueblos High School. “Congratulations to these hard-working and talented students!”

At San Marcos High School, Rhett Selby qualified as a semi-finalist.

Rhett Selby (courtesy)

“We are extremely proud of Rhett and look forward to the amazing things he will accomplish,” said Dare Holdren, Principal at San Marcos.

Honorees at Santa Barbara High School include Benjamin Hashim and Addison Sweeney.

The program gives 7,140 scholarships next spring. To be considered for the award, students must show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies.


Written by SBUnified

Press releases written by the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD). Learn more at

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