Two Ridgefield High School students, Emily Christel and Julia Lin, have won corporate-sponsored National Merit Scholarship awards.

That puts them among approximately 1,000 high school seniors who have won National Merit Scholarship awards financed by about 160 corporations, company foundations, and other business organizations.

Scholars were selected from students who advanced to the finalist level in the National Merit Scholarship competition and met criteria of their scholarship sponsors. Corporate sponsors provide National Merit Scholarships for finalists who are children of their employees, who are residents of communities the company serves, or who plan to pursue college majors or careers the sponsor wishes to encourage.

Most of these awards are renewable for up to four years of college undergraduate study and provide annual stipends that range from $1,000 to $10,000 per year. Some provide a single payment between $2,500 and $5,000. Recipients can use their awards at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university of their choice.

Emily L. Christel and Julia Lin both received a National Merit Pepsico Foundation Scholarship. Chrisel’s probable career field is listed as law by the Merit Scholarship organization, and Lin’s probable field of study is listed as biochemistry.

Established in 1962, The PepsiCo Foundation is the philanthropic anchor of PepsiCo, responsible for providing charitable contributions to eligible nonprofit organizations. The foundation says it “is committed to developing sustainable partnerships and programs in underserved regions that provide opportunities for improved health, environment and education.”

For the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Competition, over 1.5 million juniors in approximately 21,000 high schools entered the program when they took the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

In September, some 16,000 semifinalists were designated on a state representational basis in numbers proportional to each state’s percentage of the national total of graduating high school seniors. Semifinalists were the highest-scoring program entrants in each state and represented less than one percent of the nation’s seniors.

To be considered for a National Merit Scholarship, semifinalists had to fulfill requirements to advance to finalist standing. Each semifinalist was asked to complete a detailed scholarship application, which included writing an essay and providing information about extracurricular activities, awards, and leadership positions. Semifinalists also had to have an outstanding academic record, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, and earn SAT or ACT scores that confirmed their qualifying test performance.

From the semifinalist group, some 15,000 met finalist requirements.

By the conclusion of the 2020 competition, about 7,600 finalists will have been selected to receive National Merit Scholarships totaling over $30 million. Winners are the finalist candidates judged to have the strongest combination of academic skills and achievements, extracurricular accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 to conduct the National Merit Scholarship Program. The majority of National Merit Scholarships offered each year are underwritten by some 400 independent corporate and college sponsors that support NMSC’s efforts to honor the nation’s scholastically talented youth and encourage academic excellence at all levels of education.