By Times Staff Writer
Published July 27, 2005

Austin E. Heerschap of Palm Harbor University High School has been awarded a college-sponsored Merit Scholarship through the National Merit Scholarship Program. Heerschap is one of 4,600 high school graduates who received the scholarship this year. College officials selected winners from a list of finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program. More than 200 colleges and universities are sponsoring awards between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at the institution providing the scholarship. Heerschap will attend the University of Florida in Gainesville and plans to study orthodontics.

More than 1.3-million juniors from 21,000 high schools entered the 2005 Merit Scholarship competition when they took the 2003 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

About 16,000 semifinalists were named last fall on a state representational basis in numbers proportional to each state's percentage of the nation's high school graduating seniors. To become a finalist, each student had to present an outstanding academic record, a recommendation from his or her school principal, qualifying test scores and an essay describing activities, interests and goals.