Duncan becomes National Merit Scholarship Finalist


Eris Rindt, Social Media Manager

On the morning of Feb. 24, with a gleaming smile across her face and her friends, mentors and family surrounding her, senior Maddie Duncan received word that she was a finalist for the National Merit Scholarship. The scholarship allows for students to receive money for their college endeavors. There are 15,000 finalists competing for 7,500 scholarships through the Merit scholarship program. 

The application process started in her junior year. Duncan qualified due to her high score on her Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT). There are usually 200 or more students selected from each state to even compete for a scholarship, in Kansas 218 people are selected according to Spark Admissions. When she initially moved to being a semi-finalist she had to fill out recommendation forms along with an essay. 

“I was extremely excited and grateful when I found out that I was a finalist. This scholarship is important to me because if I win one it could be a big help in financing my education,” Duncan said. “Also, for me it kind of represents all the hard work that I’ve put in over the years and makes me very proud that I’ve been able to see this amazing opportunity arise from those years of work.”

Duncan has taken inspiration from her parents. Her parents, she says, have taught her to push herself and meet her full potential. She continues to be grateful for the opportunities that her parents have helped her achieve. 

“Her dad and I were very excited for her when we found out. She’s worked very hard all through school to do her best and it was awesome to see her rewarded for that,” Jennifer Duncan said. “I want Maddie to know how proud I am of her. She’s a great kid and a hard worker, and I know she’s going to continue that on into college and beyond.” 

During her freshman year Duncan joined the scholars bowl team. She has been on the team throughout all of her high school career. Scholars bowl is an extracurricular that allows students to compete with other teams in all areas of knowledge such as literature and history.

“Maddie was an excellent member of scholars’ bowl,” scholars bowl coach Brian Skinner said. “From her freshman year, all the way through her senior year, she was dedicated, composed, reliable, and consistent in her work to improve her skills. Particularly in Maddie’s last two years, she was a team leader. She was able to utilize strategies for expanding knowledge and learning new content, passing those on to younger team members. Being able to have composure and confidence is huge in scholars’ bowl. Without it, students are never able to reach a level that is competitive with the best teams in the state.”

In the fall of 2022, Duncan plans to attend the University of Columbia in New York City, New York to major in neuroscience with a focus on pre-medical studies. 

“In the end, this willingness to help and continue to grow improved both Maddie’s performance and those that are going to be becoming team leaders after her,” Skinner said. “The fact that she is a finalist for National Merit Scholarship is exactly what I would expect from someone who demonstrates as many strengths and as much hard work as Maddie does.”