Prince William County students awarded National Merit Scholarship
Posted on 06/10/2021
Picture of PWCS student National Merit Scholarship winner

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) named Patriot High School Class of 2021 graduate Abigail Lacuesta a 2021 National Merit Northrop Grumman Scholarship winner. Lacuesta is one of approximately 1,000 high school students who won 2021 corporate-sponsored National Merit Scholarship awards. Lacuesta entered the 2021 National Merit® Scholarship Program by taking the 2019 SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which serves as an initial screening. By being one of the highest-scoring entrants in the state, she was first recognized as a semifinalist.

“I was really surprised [to be named a semifinalist], actually,” said Lacuesta. “I did not think I would make it that far, and I was ecstatic to find out that I was a semifinalist. [When chosen as a winner], I was still a little surprised, but mostly, I was excited. I felt honored to be chosen.”

Winners were identified by judges as having the strongest combination of academic skills and achievements, extracurricular accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies. Lacuesta was named a winner in the first announcement of National Merit Scholars in 2021 by National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC®), accompanying 27 other scholars from Virginia.

Throughout her time in Prince William County Public Schools, Lacuesta was involved in the gifted education program, which motivated her academically. While that program fostered her love for learning and connected her with peers, her work ethic and will to succeed came more naturally to her.

“I think my motivation is mainly intrinsic. I feel lucky to be able to enjoy learning and the desire to learn more,” shared Lacuesta. “I am still partially motivated by grades like most other students, but I find that in all of my classes, there is at least one thing that I find interesting.”

Lacuesta will attend Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, to major in English. Eventually, she hopes to work in the publishing industry.

In addition, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) named Osbourn Park High School Class of 2021 graduate Lori Shoemaker a 2021 National Merit Northrop Grumman Scholarship winner. Shoemaker was awarded the National Merit University of Texas at Dallas Scholarship.

Lastly, congratulations to Sophia Evanisko and Avik Rao, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Class of 2021 graduates, for winning National Merit Scholarships. Evanisko, a Prince William County resident and former Mountain View Elementary School and Bull Run Middle School student, earned the $2,500 National Merit Scholarship. Rao, a Prince William County resident and former Glenkirk and Piney Branch Elementary Schools, and Bull Run Middle School student, earned the National Merit University of Maryland Scholarship.

Sophia Evanisko    Avik Rao


NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 to conduct the National Merit Scholarship Program. The majority of National Merit Scholarships offered each year are underwritten by some 400 independent corporate and college sponsors that support NMSC’s efforts to honor the nation’s scholastically talented youth and encourage academic excellence at all levels of education.