Christopher Pudenz
Christopher Pudenz
Monday, September 17, 2012

Christopher Pudenz is grateful to his parents, Doug and DeAnn Pudenz, for providing him the education foundation.

The 18-year-old Pudenz, a Carroll High School senior, has shown his parents his appreciation through achievement.

He recently was named a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist and will go through the application process to possibly become a finalist, which would earn him a scholarship worth thousands of dollars.

Pudenz is one of approximately 16,000 semifinalists in the 58th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. According to a news release from the National Merit Scholarship Program, based in Evanston, Ill., those high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,300 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition.

The news release says about 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

Christopher is one of four children in his family and follows two brothers’ footsteps in high academic achievement.

Sam, a 2007 CHS graduate, was class salutatorian and received a degree in agriculture business and economics from Iowa State University. He’s in a training program with a commodity-trading company and lives in Burlington, Vt.

Joel, one of the valedictorians of the CHS Class of 2009, will receive his degree next spring from Iowa State in agriculture business and economics.

Christopher’s sister, Rebekah, is a CHS sophomore.

“Growing up on the farm (the family has a crop and cattle-feeding operation east of Breda), my parents taught us to work hard,” Christopher says, “and if you’re going to do something, do it right and do it well. When you do homework, when you study, do it well and work on it till you’re finished.”

Applying those lessons, Pudenz has a perfect 4.0 grade-point average through high school and is a National Honor Society member. He’s earned college credits at Des Moines Area Community College in Western Civilization and American National Government. He’s currently taking Composition I and plans to take Composition II at DMACC. He’s completed a full menu of math classes at CHS and is currently taking physics.

He plans to attend either Iowa State or Hillsdale College, a private school in Hillsdale, Mich., to major in economics.

“You can go a lot of different directions with an economics major. We’ll see what opportunities present themselves,” Pudenz says.

He says of his interest in economics, “I like math, and I like studying how governments and businesses work. So it’s a good balance of studying math and how math relates to budgets and taxes.”

Besides excelling in academics, Pudenz also participates in choir and show choir, he’s served on Student Senate throughout high school, and he’s speech club president. In speech, he served as anchor and lead editor on last year’s TV-newscasting team that received all-state large-group honors. In choir, he received all-state honors as a sophomore. He’s performed in CHS’s fall plays the last three years and will perform in this year’s show, “Footlose.”

At First Assembly of God Church, Pudenz sings in the worship team at Sunday services and also attends youth group on Wednesday nights.

“Academics are most important to me besides spending time with my family and my relationship with God,” he says. “I spend a lot of time studying and doing homework, a lot of time doing things that will help me improve as a student and as a person overall, too.”

Pudenz believes good study habits can help him in education and throughout his life.

He says he’s adjusted his schedule of commitments this year so that he can spend more time on long-term school projects and work at a more comfortable pace.

Describing the steps in the competition, National Merit Scholarship’s news release says:

About 1.5 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2011 Preliminary sat/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (psat/nmsqt), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest- scoring entrants in each state. The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

To become a finalist, the semifinalists and their high school must submit a detailed scholarship application in which they provide information about the semifinalists’ academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, and honors and awards received. Semifinalists must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT scores that confirm students’ earlier performance on the qualifying test.

From the approximately 16,000 semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalist level and in February. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of finalists. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2013. Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 scholarships that will be awarded on a state representational basis. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 240 corporations and business organizations for finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. In addition, about 200 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,800 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.