Lian Wang ’21 Named National Merit Scholar

Monday, May 17, 2021
Lian Wang ’21

Lian Wang ‘21 of Hong Kong, China, has been named a recipient of a $2,500 National Merit Scholarship, which is underwritten by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Approximately 1.5 million students take the qualifying PSAT test, with the top 0.5 percent in each state being named a semifinalist. 

Funding for these National Merit Scholarships is provided by corporate organizations that represent nearly all sectors of American industry. Sponsors from the business community have underwritten awards offered in all 65 competitions, committing approximately $820 million to support the intellectual development of the nation’s scholastically talented youth. 

Wang proceeded through the rigorous application process that required essays, academic records, letters of endorsement, and details of extracurricular activities. This proved to be no problem for Wang, who is a widely recognized writer and scholar. Her work is featured in The Concord Review, Polyphony Lit, The Scarlet Leaf Review, and in the Blue Review (Mercersburg’s literary and arts journal), where she is the literary editor-in-chief. 

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Lian closely for the past few years,” writes Michele Poacelli, English faculty and director of the Writing Center. “Lian is phenomenal. She’s brilliant and thoughtful in everything she does—and she writes, a lot. Lian’s eyes never stop seeing and her curious mind never stops roving, yet she always maintains a graceful centeredness.”

This fall, Wang will attend Stanford University, where she will remain a writer and scholar to keep an eye out for. She gives Mercersburg a National Merit Scholar in consecutive years, as Sean Fiscus ’20 earned the honor last spring and is attending Duke University.

“How is Lian so talented and poised? I don’t know,” Poacelli adds. “I’m just happy I get to be a party to her magic.”

More than 1.5 million juniors in approximately 50,000 high schools entered the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program when they took the 2019 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. In September 2020, some 34,000 semifinalists were designated on a state representational basis in numbers proportional to each state’s percentage of the national total of graduating high school seniors. Semifinalists were the highest-scoring program entrants in each state and represented less than one percent of the nation’s seniors.

From approximately 1.6 million students who entered the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program, only about 16,000 were named semifinalists. They were designated on a state representational basis, in proportion to each state’s percentage of the national total of graduating high school seniors.

In order to advance in the competition and be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, a semifinalist had to become a finalist by fulfilling several requirements that included submitting a detailed scholarship application and presenting a record of very high academic performance. All winners of about 7,500 National Merit Scholarships are being chosen from the group of approximately 15,000 distinguished finalists.

NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 to conduct the National Merit Scholarship Program. The majority of National Merit Scholarships offered each year are underwritten by some 400 independent corporate and college sponsors that support NMSC’s efforts to honor the nation’s scholastically talented youth and encourage academic excellence at all levels of education.

For more information on this story, please contact Lee Owen ( in Mercersburg’s Office of Strategic Marketing and Communications.