Meet two of Southeast Missouri's four 2011 National Merit semifinalists

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What do a Bulldog and an Indian have in common? In the case of high school seniors Elizabeth Kiblinger and Nathan Fridley, it's academic achievement. As juniors, they scored high enough on the preliminary SAT to be included in a list of 16,000 students nationwide vying for a shot at scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship Program. According to the not-for-profit organization that heads the program, around 1.5 million students in 22,000 high schools took the qualifying test. The students that will receive the scholarships will be announced in the spring.

Semifinalists are the less than 1 percent of students nationwide to receive the honor.


Nathan Fridley

Nathan Fridley, of Jackson High School, is a National Merit semifinalist. (Kristin Eberts)

Jackson High School

Age: 16

Hometown: Jackson

Parents: Daryl and Stephanie Fridley

Q: What or who motivates you to succeed academically?

A: I'm motivated either by wanting to learn more about the given academic topic, or by realizing that only by trudging through mires of busywork will I be able to advance far enough up the academic ladder to be able to learn about things I care about.

Q: What are your plans for college?

A: I'm hoping to attend Carleton College in Minnesota. After visiting it this past summer, it really struck me as a place at which I could feel comfortable and yet be challenged.

Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge your generation faces? How do you think you'll overcome it?

A: Apathy. It seems to me that members of my generation have great difficulty identifying issues that they truly care about enough to affect. We don't understand our place in the world and often don't care to. My generation may overcome its apathy if it is exposed to new ideas -- powerful, controversial, sometimes unpleasant ideas. Apathy is born of a narrow worldview.

Q: Who is your favorite teacher and how did he inspire you to learn?

A: I'm not going to pick a favorite, but possibly the greatest influence in inspiring me has been my physics teacher, Mr. Blake Miller. Physics is the direction I want to go in regard to a career, and he's given me my first good look at what studying physics is really like.

Elizabeth Kiblinger, of Notre Dame High School, is a National Merit finalist. (Kristin Eberts)

Elizabeth Kiblinger

Notre Dame Regional High School

Age: 17

Hometown: Cape Girardeau

Parents: Mark and Debbie Kiblinger

Activities: cross country, track and field, National Honor Society, SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), student council, Peer Helpers

Q: How do you manage your time with so many activities?

A: Because I am involved in sports, I have to use my time wisely in order to get everything done. I try not to procrastinate too much, although sometimes I don't succeed.

Q: What has been your favorite aspect of high school? What is the most important thing you have learned?

A: The amazing friendships that I have formed and the memories that I have made, especially through cross country. The most important thing I have learned in high school is to enjoy it because it will be over before I know it.

Q: What are your expectations for college?

A: It will be much harder than high school, but I will have much more freedom. I haven't decided where I am going to attend yet, but I will study elementary education, and I hope to become an elementary school teacher.

Q: What or who motivates you to succeed academically?

A: My family. Two of my brothers were valedictorians of their class, and because I am competitive, I want to try to equal their accomplishments.

Q: Who is your favorite teacher and how did she inspire you to learn?

A: My favorite teacher is Mrs. Mary Ha because she loves what she teaches. She will also do anything she can in order to help you succeed in her class.

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