San Benito High School senior Aeja Rosette was named a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist this year, according to an announcement from the high school district staff.
“I didn’t expect or prepare to be a National Merit Scholar, but paying attention in math classes and doing my work ended up producing something to be proud of,” said Rosette, who views the recognition as a validation of the hard work she has put into her education.
In the annual National Merit Scholarship Program, 50,000 academically talented high school students are honored, but only 16,000 of them are named semifinalists based on their performance on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholar Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). Those semifinalists have an opportunity to advance to the finalist level and compete for National Merit Scholarships.
Semifinalists, such as Rosette, are the highest scorers in each state and represent less than 1 percent of each state’s high school seniors.
“Aeja has been an outstanding student since the day she stepped onto our campus,” San Benito Principal Adrian Ramirez said. “Being selected as a National Merit semifinalist is a well-deserved validation of her high academic performance and rigorous coursework she has taken throughout her four years with us.”
Rosette’s academic schedule is packed with six Advanced Placement (AP) classes: AP Physics II, AP Calculus BC, AP Environmental Science, AP English Literature, AP Statistics and AP Studio Art as well as an economics class.
However, her favorite class this year is art, which she says “provides a nice mental break from all my other AP classes, as I get to chat or listen to music and do art.”
Rosette has plans to enter the medical field, either as a pediatrician or working with an organization such as Doctors Without Borders. She expects to attend a four-year college after high school, but she is not sure where as of yet, as most of her decision depends upon the financial aid she receives.
Ramirez noted that “anyone who has had the pleasure of having her as their student is not surprised that she was selected” by the National Merit Scholar recognition. Rosette, however, said she was “honestly, pretty surprised. My mom, of course, cried and was generally very excited and proud” and her sister was, as well.
Rosette credits her mom with inspiring her success.
“As a single mom, she works really hard to make sure my sister and I have everything we could ever want, and doing well in school is one of the only ways I feel like I can give back to her,” she said.
In addition to her academic load, Rosette tutors 12 hours a week through the high school’s Club Ed—an experience she calls fun and rewarding. She also said she enjoys painting panels for the Associated Student Body (ASB), hiking and traveling.
As for her advice to other students on how to do well in school, Rosette suggests to “find good friends or acquaintances you can study with.”
“I have never really been able to actually study on my own, but before every big test I’m with a couple good friends at Mars Hill or someone’s house explaining and re-explaining problems and concepts with each other,” Rosette said.
“Being the ‘perfect’ student that does everything the day it’s assigned, for me at least, is a really unattainable goal. I just try to make sure to get all my stuff together before important tests or grading period end dates, and not to stress about the little things too much.”
As a semifinalist, Rosette will continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million. About 90 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title, according to NMS organizers.
“We are all very proud that she is representing San Benito High School on a national level,” Ramirez said.