Djinis named a National Merit Scholar

Amber Falkner

Djinis talks to her friend senior Griffin Guinta before heading to her fourth period AP Art History class.

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The National Merit Scholarship Program, in association with the PSAT/NMSQT, has named Saint Stephen’s senior Elizabeth Djinis a National Merit Scholar. In addition to being awarded $2,500, she joins her mother on the selective wall of National Merit achievers.

Djinis’ College Counselor Ms. Kim Lord said the initial pool of applicants for National Merit scholarships is 1.5 million students.

“From there it is whittled down to 8,300 Finalists. So, Elizabeth is one of the select few, and this is a big accomplishment for her.”

To become a Scholar, Djinis had to pass through several levels of competition, including Semifinalist and Finalist.

Djinis said she has been receiving news about her results on the PSAT throughout her senior year.

“I found out I was a National Merit Semifinalist officially at the beginning of the school year,” she said.

Djinis said she was hopeful that she would eventually be named a Scholar, and after hearing that she was in the 99th percentile, she thought her dream might come true.

History shows that the Djinis family and superior standardized testing scores go hand-in-hand, too.

“My mom had been a National Merit Semifinalist but never made it to the Scholar status–only because she graduated from high school a year early. [She is a] genius, that one.”

Because her mom was unable to become a Scholar, Djinis said she was even more determined to earn the recognition.

Djinis is more than her standardized testing scores show, though, her teachers and advisor said.

Her AP Latin teacher and four-year advisor Mr. Geoff Revard said Djinis is “one of the few students I’ve had who has gone from Level 3 to AP Latin in the last several years and one of the few that I’ve seen able to make that jump. She was really sharp from the very beginning in picking up things, and she had even come into Latin after a year away from it.”

Her teachers said she does not just stand out for her academic ability, though. It is her personality that really makes her shine, they said.

Lord said, “Elizabeth is a very well-rounded student who fortunately has a great personality to match her academic prowess.”

While this achievement awarded Djinis with a cash prize and a lifetime of bragging rights, she said her Scholar status had little to no effect on her college application process.

“I once went to a college fair and watched as a parent asked how much a certain Ivy League school took National Merit into consideration. They answered, ‘basically all of our applicants are National Merit Scholars,'” she said.

Lord said this is typical for National Merit recipients.

“Most schools, particularly the ones to which she applied, are deemphasizing standardized testing, so National Merit is not given as much weight in a student’s application,” she said.

Even without the extra recognition of a National Merit Scholar, Djinis will be attending Duke University in the fall.

Djinis said this recognition gave her the extra boost she needed before heading off to college.

“I definitely use success in my life as a way to validate who I am, so getting National Merit was a major validation of my intelligence,” she said.

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The Upper School news site of Saint Stephen's Episcopal School
Djinis named a National Merit Scholar