Arcadia High Continues Double-Digit Streak in National Merit Scholarship Program

2022 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists
Nine of Arcadia High's 11 2022 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists join Principal Angie Dillman (second from the left) and Senior Class Counselors Rachel Chan (far left) and Gina Zavala (far right) to celebrate the good news.

Arcadia High School continues its 28-year streak of seeing a double-digit number of students represented in the renowned National Merit Scholarship Program. This year, 11 Arcadia High students are counted among less than 1% of high school seniors across the nation that have been named 2022 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists, who now have the opportunity to vie for one of nearly 7,500 scholarships that collectively total close to $30 million.

“I was honestly shocked when I found out,” shared Arcadia High senior Kailin (Kathy) Liu when asked how she felt after receiving the surprise announcement from her school counselors about this distinction. “It’s an honor to continue Arcadia’s tradition of academic excellence [, and] a big congratulations to all of my fellow qualifiers as well.”

In the last 28 years, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation has honored and recognized 660 Arcadia High students as National Merit Scholarship semifinalists. As articulated on the National Merit Scholarship Program’s website, the program seeks to “honor individual students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies.”

“We are incredibly happy to share in our students’ excitement for receiving this special recognition, and we applaud their tenacity in chasing this goal through a pandemic,” said Arcadia High Principal Angie Dillman. 

Applying to the National Merit Scholarship Program begins in a student’s junior year of high school. Arcadia High’s 11 semifinalists joined juniors from high schools across the nation in taking the 2020 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as the initial screening tool for program participants. Of the approximately 16,000 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists selected, close to 15,000 are anticipated to become finalists in the program. The 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program finalists will be announced in February 2022.

Although the academic rigor and busyness of Arcadia High School can be stressful at times, it truly prepares students for future challenges,” explained Liu when reflecting on the factors that helped contribute to her success on the PSAT.

While Liu acknowledged that PSAT-specific studying is mostly an independent learning endeavor, “I want to give a shoutout to all the teachers who took on the challenge of online learning and made our education possible during the virtual school year.” 


Kailin Kathy Liu and Andrea Lou National Merit Scholar Seminfinalist  

Arcadia High National Merit Semifinalists Kailin "Kathy" Liu (left) also excels as a CIF Championship-winning Badminton player, as does her Badminton doubles partner and fellow National Merit Semifinalist Andrea Lou (right)

To be considered for a finalist spot in the National Merit Scholarship Program, Liu and her fellow Arcadia High semifinalists will work closely with their school counselors to submit a detailed scholarship application, which will include information about their academic records, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and rewards received. 

Aside from becoming an Arcadia High National Merit Scholarship finalist, Liu genuinely hopes to make an impact on her world.

“I hope to study Sociology and/or Anthropology,” said Liu. “As someone who has always loved the gray area between sciences and humanities, I hope to study these fields to better connect an increasingly globalized world.”  

Liu opined that might sound like “fancy jargon,” but that the pandemic and societal events from 2020 were catalysts for her desired trajectory. 

“It was really eye-opening to see issues plaguing the country and even the world trickle down and manifest in the Arcadia community,” explained Liu. “By studying social structures, psychology, history, and ethnographics, I hope to be able to innovate and work collaboratively towards solutions that are targeted rather than generalized and provide a platform for those who truly need to be heard.”

As for the advice she’d give to students preparing for the PSAT National Merit Scholarship Program qualifying test, Liu says, “Don’t stress too much about it! [...] The PSAT is a great way to get some insight into your current abilities/study habits and maybe even surprise yourself a little.”

In addition to its continued notable showing each year in the National Merit Scholarship program, Arcadia High School remains ranked in the top 1 percent of best public high schools in the nation, and it makes the top 10 lists for best public high schools and best teachers in public high schools in Los Angeles County, according to Likewise, Arcadia High has also been distinguished as a U.S. News and World Report Gold Medal School three times, an honor bestowed on less than 3 percent of the more than 19,000 schools in the country. Similarly, Newsweek named Arcadia High on its Top Public High Schools in America list. Arcadia High graduates are represented in every Ivy League school and in top universities across the country. Additionally, Arcadia High’s robust Advanced Placement program saw the Arcadia Unified School District named on the College Board’s Annual AP® District Honor Roll for two consecutive years in 2017 and 2018. For additional details on the National Merit Scholarship program, visit, and for information about Arcadia High School, visit

Arcadia High 2022 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists: (Alphabetical order by last name)

Ruth Berkun, Stella Koh, Kailin Liu, Andrea Lou, Sanjith Menon, Nelly Segimoto, Ryan Sun, Jose Tandoc, Ethan Wong, Sonia Zhang, and Ashley Zhao.