Surrounded by family, friends, teachers and academic personnel, Van Alstyne High School senior Emma Morgan was honored with a surprise celebration on Friday, Feb. 23 to celebrate her being named a National Merit Finalist. The crowd gathered in the VAHS library on Friday morning to surprise Morgan and congratulate her on her major academic accomplishment.

“I feel so blessed to have received this accomplishment, especially with my family, friends and teachers supporting me,” said Morgan. “The glory definitely goes to God for giving me the ability to get this far and for opening opportunities for me.”

The National Merit Scholarship Program is initially based on students PSAT scores. Approximately 1.6 million students take the PSAT each year. Of those students, about 15,000 students are selected as Finalists each February.

“On behalf the entire staff at VAHS, we are so proud of Emma Morgan,” said VAHS Principal Jeremiah Johnson. “This prestigious award speaks volumes to her work ethic and the young lady she is.”

The Merit Scholarship prizes will start being awarded in March to approximately 7,500 finalists, with the winner selected based off their skills, accomplishments and abilities. Prizes include paid scholarships, corporate sponsorships and college sponsorships. Special scholarships will also go out to additional semifinalists who do not qualify for the final stage.

“Emma not only pushes herself academically but stays involved in many extracurricular events,” said Johnson. “This award is a profound achievement for VAHS and I could not think of a more deserving person to represent our school and community in the National Merit Scholar Program.”

Morgan plans to attend Texas A&M University in College Station in the fall and major in mechanical engineering. Her dream has always been to design roller coasters, but recently she has developed an interest in designing prosthetics.

“I am blessed to have such a strong and encouraging support system behind me in every endeavor,” said Morgan, adding that Van Alstyne holds a special place in her heart. “Growing up here, the community has always been extremely supportive. Not only my parents and friends, but also my teachers and church family have always encouraged me.”