Tejaswi Shrestha of Manhattan and Evan Hancock of Westmoreland are two of 2,500 students awarded a National Merit $2,500 Scholarship for their academic achievements.

Students were chosen as finalists by the selection committee comprised of college admission officers and high school counselors. Criteria included academic record, scores from two standardized tests, contributions and leadership in school and community actives, an essay and a recommendation written by a high school official. The number of winners named in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s graduating high school seniors.

This year’s program began in October 2017 when more than 1.6 million juniors took the preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen.

Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state were named semifinalists. Only the 16,000 semifinalists had an opportunity to continue in the competition.

From the 16,000, only 7,600 finalists will be “merit scholar.” Kansas had 27 students named finalists.

Shrestha said he wants to consider a medical research field, while Hancock said he wants to go into law. Each will be able to use the $2,500 toward their schooling at an accredited college or university in the United States. They may each qualify for a college-sponsored Merit Scholarship, depending on the school they choose, which would be announced in the summer.

Hancock was the lone semifinalist from Rock Creek High School.

Manhattan High School had four semifinalists. Alongside Shrestha, Jered Zhang, Kennedy Shirk and William Lind were named semifinalists.

In the area, Madison Alderman of Wabaunsee High School was also named a semifinalist.