2 GBHS seniors named National Merit semifinalists

GRAND BLANC — Two Grand Blanc High School seniors have advanced to the semifinals of the 66th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Shriya Yarlagadda and Abe Shapiro are among 16,000 semifinalists nationwide who have the opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 scholarships in 2021. More than $30 million in scholarships will be awarded in the spring.

Nationally, the pool of semifinalists represents less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors and includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

Yarlagadda is the daughter of Himabindu and Sreekanth Yarlagadda. District Superintendent Clarence Garner said Yarlagadda has earned the AP Scholar of Distinction Award and is an AP Capstone diploma recipient.

She also participated on Grand Blanc’s Quiz Bowl team, earning all-state honors, and the Mock Trial state qualifier team, Garner said.

Somewhat of a local celebrity, Yarlagadda competed in the Jeopardy! Teen Tournament in her sophomore year.

She volunteers on the Youth Advisory Committee and with the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.

Yarlagadda plans to attend law school and hopes to ultimately work in human rights, foreign policy and/or international trade.

Shapiro is the son of Monica and Brian Shaprio. He is a certified emergency medical technician and he serves as a disc jockey at school events, Garner said.

According to district staff, Shapiro’s school spirit is contagious and he has an “outgoing and fun personality,” Garner said, adding that the student is “very driven” and focused on achieving his goal of becoming a doctor.

To be considered for a scholarship, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance. More than 90 percent of semifinalists are expected to attain finalist status and more than half of those students are likely to earn a scholarship and the Merit Scholar title.