Chancellor’s Council Contributes to Top Scholar Recruitment

Annual membership gifts drive growing number of National Merit Finalists at Texas Tech University.

For Tina Zhu, one test in high school changed her life.

Her parents had encouraged her to do well on the PSAT. Her performance on the exam led to becoming a National Merit Finalist, opening a door of opportunities that included a full ride to Texas Tech University.

Under President Lawrence Schovanec’s efforts to recruit more National Merit Finalists to Texas Tech, the program that recruited Zhu has reached record highs as university enrollment has grown. Currently, 57 finalists are enrolled at Texas Tech, including 26 freshmen.

“We’ve made significant investments in need- and merit-based scholarships in the last three years in order to enhance access and opportunities for students seeking a college education,” Schovanec said. “As a result of this commitment our student body reflects a greater diversity of backgrounds and characteristics while at the same time attaining higher levels of retention and graduation.”

Texas Tech University System Chancellor Tedd L. Mitchell, M.D., has strongly supported Schovanec’s efforts, contributing more than $100,000 of Chancellor’s Council gifts to the scholarship initiative.

“I’m grateful for our Chancellor’s Council members who make these scholarships possible through their annual gifts.”

Tedd L. Mitchell, M.D.Chancellor
Texas Tech University System

The funds come from annual membership gifts to the Chancellor’s Council — a giving society that supports Mitchell’s priorities by impacting student lives through scholarships, recognizing faculty achievement and encouraging excellence across all four system universities.

“By recruiting top scholars and increasing access to higher education through scholarships, President Schovanec ensures our flagship institution remains a place for all students,” said Mitchell, who is also president of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. “I’m proud the Chancellor’s Council can support high-achieving students like these National Merit Finalists, and I’m grateful for our Chancellor’s Council members who make these scholarships possible through their annual gifts.”

Competing for top scores and top scholars

Every October, high school juniors across the nation take the PSAT as part of the National Merit Scholarship Program, an academic competition for recognition and scholarships administered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Semifinalists are selected from the highest scoring students in their respective states. The list is winnowed down to some 15,000 students based on a combination of their PSAT test score and high school academic performance. National Merit Finalists are considered among the brightest students in the nation, with top universities offering competitive scholarship packages to recruit them.

Thanks in part to the Chancellor’s Council, Texas Tech’s offer is one of the most comprehensive — covering four years of tuition and fees, room and board, meals, books, supplies, and other expenses.

Christina Rosson, Texas Tech’s director of scholarships, believes recruiting these students increases overall test scores, enhances the level of undergraduate research, and develops the community of scholars at Texas Tech.

“They’re destined to do great and wonderful things,” Rosson said.

Jessica Cravens, who coordinates the National Merit Scholarship Program at Texas Tech, works closely with the finalists, organizing their campus visits and ensuring they get a unique personal visit. She works with Rosson, the Honors College, and other departments to show high school students all Texas Tech has to offer. After they enroll at Texas Tech, she continues to be a resource, connecting them with research opportunities, answering scholarship questions and mentoring them.

For Cravens, it is important that these students have a successful college transition.

“They’ve worked their entire lives for this, so this is a huge accomplishment for them,” she said.

Sharing success with others

Zhu is grateful she did well on the PSAT and chose Texas Tech. Now a senior studying biology and Spanish, she serves as an Honors Ambassador and a member of President’s Select, two organizations that recruit students. When she talks to high schoolers, she shares her story and encourages them to do well on the PSAT because of the doors it opened for her.

She talks about the opportunities that have made her experience at Texas Tech great – receiving a National Merit Finalist scholarship to cover her undergraduate degree; participating in undergraduate research on cancer; studying abroad at the Texas Tech campus in Seville, Spain; and being selected as part of an exclusive group of Honors College students granted guaranteed admission to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine.

As a finalist, Zhu enjoys being part of a community of high-achieving students. She likes engaging with other finalists throughout the semester at events hosted by Schovanec.

Making the most of the opportunity

One of Zhu’s peers she met through the program is Hafsa Zuberi, a sophomore general studies major. Zuberi also feels fortunate and thankful for the opportunity to attend Texas Tech as a finalist.

She remembers feeling welcomed during her campus visit and knowing the people she met were there to help her.

“Opportunities lie wherever you go,” Zuberi said. “I just feel like they are more accessible here.”

Zuberi will be attending medical school through the early admissions program between the Honors College and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. The cost of attending both undergraduate and medical school was a factor when considering different universities. Receiving a scholarship through the National Merit Scholarship Program was a major incentive to choose Texas Tech.

“Texas Tech gave me this opportunity, so I need to make the most of it.”

Hafsa ZuberiSenior General Studies Student
Texas Tech University

Involved across campus, Zuberi continues to give back to the university. She leads a class for freshmen in the Honors College, shadows a doctor at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, and recruits new students as a member of President’s Select.

Attending Texas Tech as a National Merit Finalist was a huge privilege that Zuberi does not take for granted.

“Texas Tech gave me this opportunity, so I need to make the most of it.”

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