2019 National Merit Winners

From left to right: Amy Chen, Alvin Xu, Harshitha Gedda, Aubrey Cui, Shreyas Satewar, Yuning Zhang, Micheal Yu, Vineet Paidisetty, Diego Lira, Cheryl Zeng, Manini Rana, Sindhu Yepuri, Vanessa Saenz, Jason Yuan, Rohan Rao, Sneha Sebastian. Not pictured: Quazi Asif, Ananya Dhal.


Hours of preparation for a PSAT might seem excessive and unnecessary to many, but to Senior Ananya Dhal, the moment she found out she was a National Merit Scholar made the work worth it. She and 17 of her peers were awarded with the title for their high PSAT scores. 

“It was really great recognition because it came as a shock when I first got my score and so much work went into preparing for it,” Dhal said. “It’s an honor to be one of the only eighteen students in our school to get it.”

One such student was Senior Vineet Paidisetty, who saw the win as a stepping-stone to even bigger and better things.

“It is an award for my dedication to my future,” Paidisetty said. “It’s a step in the direction towards college education.”

However, the award didn’t come without struggles. Paidisetty spent more than eight months completing SAT workbooks and practice tests. Dhal admitted that studying between classes was far from easy. For those looking to join them as National Merit Scholars, Paidisetty offered some words of wisdom: know the test.

“I would say there’s no such thing as being bad or good at standardized testing,” Paidisetty said. “It’s all about understanding what the test will ask, and this can only happen through lots of practice.”

Dhal’s advice is along the same lines. Being prepared was the biggest contributor to her success.

“More than anything, on the test day, it’s important to be calm,” Dhal said. “If you can walk into that testing room knowing that you’ve done your best to prepare no matter how it turns out, it was something worth doing.”