National Merit recognizes Suffolk students

Published 9:17 pm Saturday, October 1, 2011

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation has selected a Nansemond River High School senior as a semifinalist for its one of its scholarship programs.

Nia Shipman, 16, was chosen as one of 1,600 black students from across the national as a semifinalist in the National Achievement Scholarship Program.

The students are competing for the opportunity to receive one of 800 $2,500 scholarships.

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“I feel pretty honored,” Shipman said.

She added she appreciates the recognition even more because she was selected from such a large group of students, and she would be thrilled to receive a scholarship.

“It would be a tremendous honor because I work hard in school,” Shipman said.

To choose the semifinalists, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation evaluated black students’ PSAT scores from every school in the nation.

The students with the highest scores were notified in June that they were eligible to be finalists in the scholarship competition.

“They notified us before school ended last year that we were being recognized for having a high score,” Shipman said.

The National Merit group then announced the semifinalists last week.

Shipman received a 2020 out of a possible 2400 on her PSAT.

She said she wasn’t worried about doing well on the test, but she was surprised when she got her score back.

“I didn’t think I did that well,” she said.

To be recognized as finalists, each of the semifinalists will submit their high school academic record, a recommendation from their principal, an essay and their SAT score. About 1,300 of the 1,600 semifinalists will become finalists, and from that number, half will receive scholarships.

Although she doesn’t know exactly what she would like to study, Shipman said, she is considering engineering because she loves math. And she is in the process of applying to colleges, including North Carolina A&T University, Virginia Commonwealth University and George Mason University.

Before moving to Suffolk when she was in the third grade, Shipman attended a Montessori school in Norfolk.

Because she scored so high on initial assessments before starting school, Shipman entered Nansemond Parkway Elementary School as a fifth-grader.

Shipman said she has always felt the need to do well in school and get the best grades she could.

“I feel as though if I was given the means to achieve, then I should take advantage of that,” she said.

In addition, four Nansemond-Suffolk Academy students have also been named as commended students in the 2012 National Merit Scholarship Program, which is a separate program also run by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

Seniors Sabrina Carter, Zachary Peak, Jacob Roberson and Aakash Shah were recognized by the group.

Although they are not going to be further considered for the official scholarship, commended students scored in the top 5 percent of more than 1.5 million students who entered the 2012 competition.

For more information on the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, visit