Germantown Municipal School District celebrates eight National Merit Semifinalists

National Merit Semifinalist Groups


Germantown, Tennessee—On September 15, 2021, officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) announced the names of its Semifinalists in the 67th annual National Merit Scholarship Program including eight of HHS’ Seniors


Sophia Cheng

Daniel Gottschalk

Hamin Jin

Hari Rajadurai

Robert Randall

Darsh Shah

Ashley Yan

Susan Zhang


These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be offered next spring. The nationwide pool of applicants is about 1.5 million, and the Semifinalists represent less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors. Over 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. 


“Reaching national merit status is an overwhelming honor, and I am honored,” said 2021 recipient Susan Zhang, acknowledging that National Merit Semifinalists often get scholarship offers to multiple universities as a reward for their success.  “My advice [to younger students aspiring to become National Merit Semifinalists] is to only take on what you are ready for and to work hard for yourself.  While it’s an honor to win such a prestigious award, don’t let the chase for merit status push you instead of a genuine desire for self-improvement.  Work hard and you will get where you need to be,” said Zhang.


Fellow Semifinalist Sophia Cheng had similar words for GMSD students, "It’s important not to overwork yourself or base your worth on test scores.  It’s perfectly okay to strive for a goal, but also keep in mind that it’s not the end of the world.  For standardized tests, what I find most helpful is practice--doing as many full tests in the time limits as possible--getting yourself used to it”.

This year, Germantown Municipal School District has created celebratory posters of students to display in their feeder schools (elementary and middle schools).  “We want our youngest students to look up to these fine young scholars just as they would state championship athletes,” said HHS College Counselor Sara Schmitt.  In addition to being featured on the posters, this year’s recipients also had an opportunity to write to teachers who they felt helped them on this journey.


"Germantown Municipal School District is especially proud of its National Merit Semifinalists this year.  This is an exciting accomplishment for our students, but also a testament to our teachers during a time when education has presented some challenges [related to the pandemic].  All of our educators and these students' families should be proud," said Superintendent Jason Manuel.


Please email or text 901.921.3090 if you are interested in a Zoom interview with some of the students or the Superintendent.