Taos Academy High School senior Elliot Molz, 17, has been named a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist.
He is the only student in Taos to receive this recognition, and there are approximately 16,000 semifinalists awarded the scholarship in the country. A total of 91 students in New Mexico are semifinalists. Students who reach this stage are the highest scoring SAT or ACT entrants in each state. The highest score a student can get on the SAT is 1600. Molz received a 1530 score.
To be considered, Molz had to fill out an application and write an essay, but he won't know if he's a finalist until February 2022. About 95 percent of semifinalists nationwide are expected to be named finalists and about 7,500 will go on to receive scholarships, all sharing a lump sum of $30 million. Half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.
Molz said he was not nervous before taking the SAT. In preparation, he said he utilized free online resources and tutorials and had a strong test taking strategy the day of the exam.
"I think that's the key - just confidence" said Molz.
He hopes the scholarship will increase his chances of being accepted into colleges and open the door for other grant opportunities.
"I want to study environmental science when I get to college," said Molz.
As a child, he lived for six months in Finland, an experience which sparked his fascination with Arctic Studies. He said he hopes to study the effects of climate change.
When Molz is not at school or applying for scholarships, he spends his time doing what he loves: being out in nature. He is a varsity soccer player, an avid skier competing on the Taos Winter Sports Team and also enjoys trail running.
"It's just a matter of discipline and wanting to achieve my goals," said Molz.
The scholarship established in 1955, is a nonprofit organization that operates without government assistance.
Molz would like to study at prestigious east coast schools such as Columbia University, MIT, Northeastern University and Boston College.
"I'd just like to thank my parents and my teachers at Taos Academy [for helping me] to achieve these goals," said Molz.