Scottsboro High School Students Ben Gossett and Mason Sharp were recently selected as National Merit Scholar Semifinalists.

To become semifinalist, both students had to meet the scoring requirements on the PSAT, which they took the fall of their junior year. As semifinalists, the students will have the opportunity to be considered as finalists and eventually as National Merit Scholars.

If they were selected as National Merit Scholars, Gossett and Sharp would be awarded coveted scholarships that students across the nation compete for. “We only had about 230 [students selected] in our state this year so it’s awesome to have two from our relatively small school,” said Gossett.

For Gossett, becoming a semifinalist has been a long-term goal.

“This was a big deal to me because it’s something I’ve been shooting for since probably junior high,” he said.  “It’s always really satisfying to see all the work and preparation you put in for such a long time come to fruition.”

After high school, Gossett plans on majoring in biochemistry and before entering medical school where he plans to pursue oncology.

“I’m hoping to end up in research, so right now I’m trying to find a school where I can do some sort of cancer research as an undergraduate and can also graduate without much debt,” said Gossett.

Being a semifinalist will help Gossett achieve his career goals even if he doesn’t advance to the next level.

“Even if I don’t get the scholarship, being a semifinalist carries a weight and opens a lot of doors,” said Gossett.

His advice for younger students is to “Set your goals early and realize it’s going to be something that will take a lot of time. Be specific about what you want to achieve, then stay informed about what it’s going to take to achieve them and expect to have to be your own advocate and motivator sometimes. It’s never easy, but it’s always worth it in the end.”  

Sharp sees his semifinalist status as a first step in an even longer process of becoming a National Merit Scholar.

“Being a semifinalist in the national merit competition doesn't change much. The more important part is the finalist portion, which is still in progress,” said Sharp. After high school, he plans on majoring in math or engineering.

Until then, he will improve his application for the next step in the competition. Sharp advises younger students to “find your passion and study it. Secondly, learn and study math proper, which helps in most fields so long as you go deep enough. Both help with further study in pursuit of your goals.”

Both students encourage others to find what their goal is and work hard to achieve it. Becoming National Merit Semifinalists is only the start of a long academic journey for Gossett and Sharp. They will spend the rest of their senior year attempting to gain National Merit Scholar status. Whatever the future holds for these students, it will be bright.

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