Contributing Excellence

Kyle Kopchak, Sports Editor

This fall three Joliet West students received the honor of Commended National Merit Scholar, a distinguished award that students receive for placing in the top 5% of individuals who take the Preliminary SAT or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

Margret Spesia, Sean Chapman, and Youjia Wang joined 34,000 students who also received this award. Over 1.5 million students entered the 2015 competition by taking the 2013 Preliminary SAT or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Meg Spesia, Youjia Wang, and Sean Chapman are exceptional students and have big aspirations for the future.

When asked about receiving his recent award Sean Chapman said, “I am happy to receive recognition for my academic achievements. It is gratifying to know that my hard work has paid off.” Sean has applied to the University of Chicago, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, Amherst College, and Northwestern University. He plans on studying clinical psychology in college.

Sean gave some advice for future Joliet West students who are looking to take the PSAE, “I would advise students to study, read, and relax. Studying is necessary because the PSAT is different from the ACT in a few important respects; for instance, the PSAT emphasizes critical thinking, and therefore, one needs to be able to manipulate mathematical formulas, and understand the difference in viewpoint between two scholarly writers. Habitual reading, in particular, helps with the section that tests students’ vocabulary, and relaxation is vital to performing one’s best in any area of life.” Meg Spesia, another JTHS Commended National Merit Scholar, said, “She is extremely honored and excited to be a Commended National Merit Scholar!” Meg says she is undecided on a school for next year yet, but is looking at Notre Dame, the University of Dallas, and Providence College. In college Meg is looking to major in theology, where she could possibly become a high school teacher or college professor.

She is also considering becoming a youth minister. Spesia is excited for college and looking forward to where life will take her. When asked if she has any advice for students looking to take the PSAT students she said, “Don’t worry! Do all the usual test-taking tips (sleep and eat beforehand, etc.) and then approach the test with confidence. The PSAT/SAT style is a little different than the ACT questions that we’re used to at West, so get comfortable with those, too.”

Spesia comes from a family of Commended National Scholars; her brother Frank Spesia also received this award.

The final commended National Merit finalist is Youjia Wang. Wang said, “I am honored to receive this award, but also disappointed because I am out of consideration to be named a national merit scholar.” Youjia has applied to Harvard, Yale, University of Michigan, University of Illinois, Stanford University, and Northwestern University. He is excited to see where he will end up next year, and plans on going into medicine. For advice on the PSAT, Youjia said, “It is important for students to study for the PSAT, because a majority of students do not.”

Joliet West is grateful to have Margret Spesia, Sean Chapman, and Youjia Wang to represent Joliet West on the national stage, and is looking forward to see what these three student and other exceptional Joliet West students can achieve this