Being one of 1,247,890 qualifiers was natural for her. Being one of 50,000 was exciting. Being one of the 15,000 finalists has her ecstatic.
Moffat County High School senior Caitlin Turner is a National Merit Scholarship finalist.
"This is an outstanding award for an outstanding student," Moffat County High School (MCHS) principal Joel Sheridan said.
The last MCHS student receiving such an honor was Amy Weible in 1995.
As a finalist, Turner will have her name engraved on a plaque located in the main office of the high school. The plaque was donated in 1989 by Rod and Betsy Peck when their son, Corey, won the award.
"This really is an honor," Turner said. "It is also really neat that my name will be on the plaque so I will be able to see it whenever I come back."
The National Merit Scholarship Program is an annual academic competition for recognition and college undergraduate scholarships. It is conducted by National Merit Scholarship Corporation and is open to all U.S. high school students. Winners are selected on the basis of their abilities, skills and accomplishments.
"This award opens a lot of doors," MCHS counselor Sandie Johns said. "It is an outstanding award and (Turner) is a very bright young woman."
Students begin the National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the PSAT/NMSQT, a test used by National Merit Scholarship Committee as an initial screening of entrants. Those scoring high enough on the PSAT, which this year numbered 50,000, are notified and then take the SAT. Entrants also wrote an essay and filled out an application.
Fifty percent of the finalists will receive monetary awards. Many choosing to attend higher education facilities have a good chance of receiving scholarships or grant money.
According to Sheridan, only one student in every 1,000 receives the National Merit Scholarship award.
Turner scored 1,480 on her SAT. In her essay, she explained how different items in her bedroom related to her life.
Turner was at home sick Tuesday when finalists were announced. Johns contacted her and the news "really cheered me up," Turner said.
Turner is a 4.0 student and has been since eighth-grade. She is employed at McDonald's in Craig and is a third-degree black belt in tae kwon do. She also likes to ride dirt bikes with her father and she is on the board of the Yampa Valley Legacy Foundation.
She attributes much of her academic and personal success to her parents.
"My parents have always encouraged me," Turner said.
By excelling and finding a niche in creative writing, Turner wants to use her English skills in college and eventually obtain a master's degree in English and teach elementary school.
Turner plans to attend Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa.