MONROVIA, CA – Monrovia High School Senior Nathan Nakamura has been selected as a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist for earning a high score on his PSAT, placing him in the top 1 percent of high school seniors across the nation. Nakamura earned a 1500 out of a possible 1520 PSAT score.

“It felt really great being recognized as a semifinalist,” Nakamura, 17, said. “My whole family supported me and was very happy.”

Nakamura plans to attend a California university and major in computer science or biochemistry, inspired by his parents and a former teacher. His parents are computer programmers for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and his sophomore chemistry teacher was a former cancer researcher.

“Computer programming is the future of our world and has become a pivotal part of our society that’s almost integrated into everything,” Nakamura said. “The fact that my chemistry teacher was working toward the greater good of society sparked my interest in biochemistry – I want to help other people.”

Nakamura has pursued Monrovia High’s rigorous Math and Science Academy pathway and is a member of the school’s robotics team.

“Being able to simulate a workforce where you are in charge of certain tasks and you need to get projects done by a certain time – I think that that will help me prepare for the future,” Nakamura said.

The National Merit Scholarship Corp., established in 1955, honors exceptional American youths and encourages them in achieving their goals and aspirations. Students apply through a combination of PSAT scores, academic record and extracurricular achievements.

The pool of 1.6 million students across the U.S. is narrowed to 15,000 semifinalists who received top PSAT scores. Finalists, the top 7,500 seniors, will be announced in February. National Merit Scholars receive one of three scholarships: A $2,500 National Merit Scholarship Corp. scholarship, a corporate-sponsored scholarship or a college-sponsored scholarship.

“Congratulations to Nathan for being recognized as one of the top scholars across the nation,” Monrovia Unified Board of Education President Bryan Wong said. “Nathan is an example of the caliber of students we have at Monrovia Unified schools.”

Five Monrovia High students were recognized as Commended Scholars, scoring in the top 34,000 seniors across the U.S.: Alexandra Feldman, Valerie Flores, Ishika Muchal, Benjamin Tang and Max Young. Three Monrovia High students earned a place in the National Hispanic Recognition Program, scoring among the top 2.5 percent of the Hispanic/Latino population across the states: Rebecca De La O, Valerie Flores and Gabriel Lujan.

“Monrovia Unified focuses on the success of each student, and our Monrovia High scholars honored by that National Merit program represent the quality of our rigorous curriculum and quality teachers,” Superintendent Katherine Thorossian said. “We look forward to the achievements of all of our students.”


101917_MONROVIA_NATIONALMERIT1: Monrovia High School senior Nathan Nakamura has been recognized as a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist for earning high scores on his PSAT, placing him in the top 1 percent of high school seniors across the nation.

101917_MONROVIA_NATIONALMERIT2: Monrovia High School seniors were recognized by the National Merit Program as semifinalists, commended students and/or as National Hispanic Scholars: (back row, left to right) Valerie Flores, Gabriel Lujan, Benjamin Tang, Nathan Nakamura (front row) Ishika Muchal, Alexandra Feldman and Rebecca De La O. Not pictured: Max Young.