Congratulations for reaching a National Merit Scholarship Milestone written above photos of three high school students

Congratulations are in order for three Rio Rancho Public Schools high school students who have reached a milestone in the National Merit Scholarship Program selection process. Those students are: Rebecca Pelowitz (Rio Rancho High School), Rebecca Skousen (Rio Rancho High School), and Kirsten Kuper (V.Sue Cleveland High School). 

The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition with approximately 1.5 million high school students entering the program nationwide each year. We are proud to say that three of those students come from RRPS and have either made it to the semifinals or finals. Of the 1.5 million entrants, only 50,000 with the highest PSAT/NMSQT® Selection Index scores (calculated by doubling the sum of the Reading, Writing and Language, and Math Test scores) qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program. 

In September 2021, the high scorers are notified that they have qualified as either Commended Students or Semifinalists. All three of the RRPS students joined nearly 16,000 of their peers and qualified as semifinalists in September. Then, in February, the three students also made it to the finalist stage.

All winners of Merit Scholarship awards (Merit Scholar® designees) are chosen from the Finalist group based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments. A variety of information is available for NMSC to evaluate: The Finalist's academic record, information about the school's curriculum and grading system, PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index score, the high school official's written recommendation, information about the student's activities and leadership, and the Finalist's own essay. Approximately 7,500 winners will be notified between March and June that they have been selected to receive a Merit Scholarship. There are three types of Merit Scholarships: National Merit $2,500 Scholarships, Corporate Sponsored Merit Scholarships or College-Sponsored Merit Scholarships.

We are so proud of all three of our students for making it so far in the competition for the highly coveted academic scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship Program. We are cheering for all three of them to be selected as honorees.

Here’s a little background on all three of our students and their outstanding backgrounds:

Rebecca Pelowitz - Finalist - Rio Rancho High School: Rebecca Pelowitz has a cumulative GPA of 4.16, is ranked No. 10 in her graduating class and is a National Honor Society Member.  She is involved with many school activities such as marching band and Dungeons and Dragon Club.  She also has an internship with the school district Information Technology Department.  She actively participates in LBYX Foreign Exchange Program,  youth group and Choir at All Saints Lutheran Church and is a co-founder and co-leader of GSA, 12th grade.  She will be attending New Mexico State University in the fall to study Biochemistry.

Rebecca Skousen - Finalist - Rio Rancho High School: Rebecca Skousen has a cumulative GPA of 4.31, is ranked No. 4 in her graduating class and is a member of National Honor Society. She is involved with many school activities such as marching band, theatre and orchestra.  She is also involved in the community with musical theatre, church activities, piano and voice lessons, as well having achievement awards in the NYC Midnight Short Story Contest and was selected to perform at the Dancing Classrooms Convention.   She will be attending Brigham Young University in Provo, UT in the Fall of 2022 to study English, specifically Creative Writing. 

Kirsten Kuper - Finalist - V.Sue Cleveland High School: Kirsten Kuper is a drum major with the award winning V. Sue Cleveland High School Storm Regiment Marching Band and participates in both wind symphony and jazz band.  She is President and co-founder of the Cleveland Students for Life Club and manages the google platforms for National Honor Society.  Outside of school she is a piano teacher and volunteers at St. John Vianney Catholic Church, as well as Care Net Pregnancy Center of Rio Rancho.  In addition to being a National Merit Scholar, some of her honors include being an all-state musician and receiving the Texas Tech University James Sowell Engineering Scholarship, as well as the Presidential Merit Scholarship.  Kristen plans on attending Texas Tech University in the fall to study chemical engineering and being a member of Goin’ Band from Raiderland Marching Band.  

To learn more about the National Merit Scholarship Program, visit: