UAIS student earns a spot in the top 1% of high school seniors 


Senior Hannah Bernardi

Sonali Pawa , Reporter

This year five students who attend Utica Community Schools were recognized as National Merit Semi-Finalists, including UAIS’s very own Hannah Bernardi. 

Approximately 50,000 out of 1.4 million U.S. High School seniors each year end up as National Merit semi-finalists. That’s less than four percent of all High School seniors in the United States. National Merit Semi-Finalists achieve top scores on their PSAT’s, taken in October of their junior year of high school.  

Once achieving their score and Semi-Finalist status, they can apply through an application to become a full National Merit Scholar. This allows them to access over 7,500 National Merit Scholarships, that total over 30 million dollars.  

This year 1.6 million students from the class of 2022 took the qualifying PSAT in October of their Junior year. 16,000 students earned National Merit Semi-Finalist status, meaning less than one percent of U.S. seniors earned this title, significantly less than previous years.  

 Bernardi is an ambitious student; her academic goals began very early on, through the influence of her parents.  

“My parents have always encouraged me to work hard in school, they’ve instilled in me that school is extremely important for future success,” Bernardi said. “They also played a large role in encouraging me to take advantage of the districts specialty programs: CSI, MST and UAIS/IB.”  

Bernardi partakes in multiple clubs across UAIS, including, but not limited to, Key Club, Student Voice Committee, and French Club. In addition, she is on many club boards, which allows her to be very involved within the student body.

In class, she is very organized and motivated. She is always willing to help her peers out. When asked to use one word to describe her, Bryan Battaglia, a physics teacher at UAIS, said she is “amazing.” 

Furthermore, Bernardi is admired by her peers.  

“She is a very honest, kind and helpful person; I can always rely on her,” Christeen Mangalathet, senior at UAIS, said.  “She will always say the right words to put a smile on my face and will cheer me up on my worst days.”

Bernardi is always there to lend a helping hand when someone is in need. Her peers feel very comfortable approaching her for words of advice, or assistance on a task.  

In and out of the classroom, Bernardi proves to uphold the qualities a National Merit Semi-Finalist should encompass. She pushes herself academically, involves herself in the student body, and assists her peers when they need it. Her journey to becoming a National Merit Semi-Finalist was by no means easy; it took a lot of hard work and dedication.  

To students wishing to pursue high academic goals, Bernardi said, “The biggest piece of advice I can give a student who wants to achieve high academic goals like myself is to take advantage of all academic opportunities provided to you, both in and out of the classroom.

 “Taking advantage of clubs and extracurricular activities or even opportunities through colleges will help advance your learning in the classroom. The most important piece of advice I can give a student is to find topics or ideas that interest you and run with them, use them to your advantage to enhance your learning.”