Vivien Liu and Christina Kim of Marianas High School were recognized as semifinalists by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, along with two other students in the CNMI.
This year, 16,000 students earned this title, representing approximately 1% of the 1.5 million students who took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.
Liu and Kim were both named Questbridge College Prep Scholars and were accepted into several fly-in programs for top colleges in the United States.
Through QuestBridge Prep, Kim was able to experience Yale University’s summer program with a full scholarship. She was also contacted by the West Point admission officer and was considered for the Letter of Assurance several months ago, which is a conditional acceptance to West Point Class of 2026. In addition, she passed all six of her Advanced Placement classes and has been recognized as an AP Scholar with Distinction.
When asked about the semifinalist title, she said, “Despite already having been recognized as an AP Scholar with Distinction, as well as being a national representative for the CNMI for MathCourt, National Speech and Debate Association, and Mock Trial, I still take immense pride in my most recent accomplishment as a National Merit semifinalist. I found out that I was a semifinalist only after the article recognizing the other two students in the CNMI was published. I was disheartened because I thought nobody from our class in Marianas High School was a Merit Scholar. After I found out, I wanted to share this exciting news with my community. I hope that the future classes at MHS can continue this tradition of keeping Marianas High School on the list of schools that have Merit Scholars.”
Liu has represented the CNMI in national competitions for Speech & Debate, Mock Trial, Short Film, Theatrical Scenic Design, and Aeronautics. She is currently the MHS Mock Trial captain and Honor Society president. Having taken six AP classes and receiving 5s on all of them, she was also named an AP Scholar with Distinction, courtesy of the Collegeboard’s Advanced Placement Program.
When asked about the context of her recognition, she said, “It’s been especially tough for most of us locally, in the Class of 2022, because our school year has been interrupted every single year since we started high school. I had to do a lot of self-studying to catch up on the standards tested in the SAT, but my hard work has paid off. So much of the National Merit recognition lies in the full-ride scholarships offered by schools like the University of Central Florida, University of Alabama, etc., so I’m hopeful to pursue higher education without burdening my family with things like student loans.”
She added, “I’ve been in the CNMI’s public school system since K5: I went to Garapan for elementary school, Hopwood for middle school, and now MHS for high school. In the classroom, I learned the basics of English and math, but through my activities, I was afforded the opportunity to apply it. I’m honored to have earned this national recognition, but it’s also given me a lot to think about. There’s a stigma associated with public schools: a lot of people seem to think that they’re not as rigorous or academically demanding. I think that’s not true; I am deeply grateful to all teachers in the CNMI for devoting themselves to ensuring we actually learned the material, for understanding that some students have difficult home lives, for being funny and kind and most importantly, for believing in us.” (PR)