Nathan Tesman, a recent graduate of BASIS School in Peoria, was awarded a college-sponsored Merit Scholarship by Arizona State University for his academic and extracurricular achievement in high school.
Tesman, who lives in Glendale, was part of an initial group of around 1.6 million U.S. high school students who took the PSAT — used as the initial screening test for the National Merit Scholarship — and was named one of 16,000 semifinalists due to his high score, representing that of the top 1%.
Then he had to fill out a lengthy application. It included listing leadership and extracurricular experience, showing outstanding academic records, an endorsement by a school official and an essay specific to the program.
“If I recall correctly, it was about overcoming a problem, and I wrote specifically about overcoming things in my life to succeed academically,” Tesman said.
To his surprise, Tesman was named by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation as one of 15,000 students nationwide to become a finalist.
“I was shocked when I found out I was even a semifinalist, much less advancing again. There were people from school or that I knew that I thought would blow me out of the water, and they didn’t make it. So, it was surprising, but they (BASIS School) really celebrated it,” he said.
Tesman was later notified he would not receive any money from the NMSC itself, but ASU deemed his resume and spot as a finalist enough to give him some school-sponsored money.
At a school like BASIS, which enrolls several of the top-achieving students in Arizona, he is often surrounded by classmates he called “prodigies” or “geniuses.”
Tesman attributes his winning of the Merit Scholarship to the same ethic he put into a school that makes it very difficult to stand out.
“I look around me, and a lot of my friends are really intellectually talented at a school that really pushes you. My philosophy is that I’m not the smartest guy on the planet but I work very hard, and I think I have a stronger work ethic than most so that I can be at that same high level a lot of the people around me are at,” he said.
Tesman will attend Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University to study psychology, with a possible double major in family and human development. He said he is thankful to the school for his scholarship and is enthusiastic about his next level of education.
“I’m excited for the chance to have my education be something that I’m really interested in and passionate about, really getting into the specifics of things you want to zero in on,” he said.