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U-46 Board of Education Honors Finalists in National Merit Scholarship Program

April 11, 2024 - The School District U-46 Board of Education on Monday night honored four high school seniors who are finalists in the 69th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.


Samantha Havener of Elgin High School and Raiyan Hasan, Macy Medendorp, and Arav Patel of Bartlett High School will compete for one of nearly 7,500 National Merit Scholarships that together are worth nearly $28 million. The scholarships will be awarded this spring.


The U-46 students placed among the top 1 percent of juniors nationwide who entered the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2022 PSAT, which served as the initial screening. They advanced to the finals based on their academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. The students received Accent on Achievement certificates from the Board of Education.


Raiyan said he felt his hard work paid off when he learned about being named a National Merit Finalist. He’s still deciding on which college to attend, but the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Georgia Institute of Technology are among his top choices.


“I enjoyed my time at U-46, and one of my favorite parts was the class environment of Bartlett High’s STEM Academy,” he said. “All of my teachers have been very supportive and helpful, and my classmates motivate me to do my best.”


For the last two years, Samantha has been a part of the Dual Credit program, attending school full-time at Elgin Community College and simultaneously earning college and high school credit. She said she’s grateful U-46 provided the Dual Credit



“This program gave me a much better understanding of how college really works,” she said. “In addition, the ability to complete an associate’s degree for free, along with obtaining my high school diploma, is an opportunity I would not have had nearly anywhere else.”


While she hasn’t made her final college decision, she’s been accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and considers it her top choice. She will likely major in mechanical engineering with a focus in robotics.


Arav said he was first shocked, and then excited and grateful, when he learned he had been named a National Merit Finalist. He’s still deciding on what college to attend, but he plans to major in either engineering or business. As he prepares to graduate from U-46, Arav said he’ll remember all the teachers who supported him along the way.


“My U-46 education was highlighted by teachers who care. Each year, I've had a teacher on my side for more than just the 50 minutes allotted per day,” he said. “Whether it be through the struggles of the college process or simply being in high school, I always had at least one teacher I could turn to for guidance.”