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Howland High School student named semifinalist in National Merit Scholarship Program competition
Howland High School student named semifinalist in National Merit Scholarship Program competition
Kate Keller
Tuesday, September 15, 2020

A Howland High School senior has been recognized for her exceptional academic promise.  On September 9, 2020, Kate Li was named a semifinalist in the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program.  

Li is one of approximately 16,000 high school seniors who qualified as a semifinalist.  Each year, approximately 50,000 academically talented high school students are honored through the National Merit Scholarship Program, but only 16,000 of them are named semifinalists.   Students qualify as semifinalists based on their performance on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.  About 7,600 of the outstanding finalists will be chosen as Merit Scholarship winners in the 2021 competition.

“I’m immensely thankful to have received this honor and very excited to continue in the competition for a potential scholarship,” said Howland High School senior Kate Li.  “My parents, sister, middle school cross country coach, tennis coach, piano teacher, debate mentors and friends, teachers, those I’ve met through Empower Expression, and many others have played a pivotal role in shaping who I am today.” 

In school, Li is involved in varsity tennis, National Honor Society, Pep Club, the Mindfulness Club and class representatives.  She’s also a member of the Speech & Debate Team.  Some of her proudest accomplishments in school include placing in the top 20 in the National Speech and Debate Tournament, ranking third in Ohio, winning the National Circuit Black Hawk, and being named a two-time champion in Public Forum Debate in the Youngstown district.  Outside of school, Li has played the piano for the past 12 years both in competitions and in recitals.  She is also the Founder and CEO of Empower Expression.

Empower Expression is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that offers free, personalized mentoring in Public Speaking, Music, Writing, Design and Film Production.  Li, along with two of her friends launched this organization due to the immense impact participating in the arts has had on them. 

“The ability to speak publicly, the acquisition of new language skills, and the opportunity to freely express individuality can build long-lasting confidence in oneself and improve one’s ability to connect with others. Empower Expression provides a productive learning environment that is stress-free and fun to encourage expression that fosters self-confidence and communication skills ,” said Li.  

After graduation, Li plans to attend college and major in psychology or neuroscience.