Dobyns-Bennett, Science Hill, Tennessee High students win National Merit Scholarships

Rick Wagner • Jun 5, 2019 at 9:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Three Northeast Tennessee high school graduates, one each from Bristol, Johnson City and Kingsport, have won National Merit Scholarships funded by the University of Tennessee, the National Merit Scholarship Corp. (NMSC) announced Tuesday.

The three are:

— Tennessee High School’s Samuel J. Bender, who plans to go into aerospace engineering as a career. 

— Science Hill High School’s Jakob Z. Cielo, who plans a career in aerospace engineering.

— And Dobyns-Bennett High School’s Nikhil A. Chatra, who plans for a career in public health.

UT is a land-grant and state university and has five campuses, including its largest at Knoxville. From an enrollment of about 50,000 students, approximately 28,000 are men and 22,000 are women. The university has more than 25 colleges, divisions and schools offering curricula leading to the Bachelor's degree in over 150 major fields, the Master's degree in over 125 fields and the Doctor's degree in over 50 fields. More than 70 percent of the seniors indicate an intention to take graduate studies.

The three graduates are among more than 3,500 winners of National Merit Scholarships financed by U.S. colleges and universities, chosen from a pool of semifinalits. Officials of each sponsor college selected their scholarship winners from among the finalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program who plan to attend their institution. These awards provide between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at the institution financing the scholarship.

An additional group of scholars will be announced next month, bringing the total number of college-sponsored Merit Scholarship recipients in the 2019 competition to about 4,100. This year, 173 higher education institutions are underwriting Merit Scholarship awards through the National Merit Scholarship Program. Sponsor colleges and universities include 95 private and 78 public institutions located in 43 states and the District of Columbia. Recipients represent less than 1 percent of U.S. seniors in the class of 2019.

Tuesday’s announcement is the third National Merit Scholar release in 2019 by NMSC, which named recipients of corporate-sponsored awards on April 17 and winners of National Merit $2500 Scholarships on May 8. Additional recipients of college-sponsored awards will be announced on July 15. By the conclusion of this year’s competition, about 7,600 academic champions will have won National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million.