Liberty Ledger

The National Merit Scholar

Rishi Kondapaneni has been awarded a prestigious scholarship

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The National Merit Scholar

Senior Rishi Kondapaneni has been named as a finalist for the National Merit Scholarship earlier this year.

Senior Rishi Kondapaneni has been named as a finalist for the National Merit Scholarship earlier this year.

Chasteanne Salvosa

Senior Rishi Kondapaneni has been named as a finalist for the National Merit Scholarship earlier this year.

Chasteanne Salvosa

Chasteanne Salvosa

Senior Rishi Kondapaneni has been named as a finalist for the National Merit Scholarship earlier this year.

Mollie Banstetter, Reporter

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It’s no surprise to anyone that knows senior Rishi Kondapaneni, that he has achieved so much academically. Kondapaneni was named as a finalist for the National Merit Scholarship earlier this year.

Finalists represent less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, and have the opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million. Kondapaneni was the only Liberty student to be named as a finalist. Jasper Pendino from Holt was the only other Wentzville School District student to receive this.  

“This is definitely a big deal for me, its opened up a lot of opportunities,” Kondapaneni said.

PSAT stands for the Preliminary SAT, which is the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The PSAT tests math and evidence-based reading and writing. Kondapaneni’s first college choice, University of Florida, awarded him the scholarship through the program.

“I totally didn’t know it existed, my dad actually told me ‘Hey you should take the PSAT.’ and I was like why?… And he says ‘well there’s actually this scholarship you could get if you take it.’ And I didn’t really care much about it because it was just like another standardized test but, then I scored well and it opened up a lot of opportunities and I’m really thankful for it.”

After stumbling upon the PSAT, a year and a half later Kondapaneni got a letter and a certificate letting him know what he just achieved.

“I was like ‘nice cool lol’ cause I don’t really care much about things,” Kondapaneni said, referring to his reaction when finding out that he received the National Merit Scholarship.

“He has always excelled in academics, I think that’s obvious to any teacher that has had him,” Mrs. Strathman said, who is his HOSA advisor.

Now he has the scholarship to prove it. Kondapaneni, scored a 1480 out of 1520 on the PSAT, just in case you were interested – that’s 40 points away from the perfect score.

“It’s very easy to get the scholarship, the hard part is just taking the PSAT, because you’re competing with people around the nation…it’s really important to study hard for the PSAT because it’s the first step and the hardest step,” Kondapaneni said.

Although this may seem braggadocious, there is a point to this; that point being that yes though academics may come easy to Kondapaneni, anyone can take the PSAT and could be the next recipient of the prestigious scholarship, required they put in the hard work.

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