National Merit Scholarship Winner

Athena Yao Named a National Merit Scholarship Winner
Wantagh High School senior Athena Yao was named a $2,500 scholarship winner in the National Merit Scholarship Program. 

Athena was chosen among more than 15,000 talented finalists from each state, who were judged based on their skills, accomplishments and potential for success in future college and university studies. As a finalist, Athena was selected through a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors based on her academic record, the level of difficulty of courses studied and grades earned, scores from two standardized tests, contributions and leadership in school and the community, a finalist essay and a high school official recommendation.

Athena is salutatorian of the Class of 2020, a National Advanced Placement Scholar and is enrolled in the district’s rigorous AP Capstone program. Athena is the tutoring coordinator for the National Honor Society and holds memberships in both the art and science honor societies. She recently garnered the Congressional Art Award and the Scholastic Art and Writing Award and is Team A captain of the Science Olympiad team and a Key Club trustee. Athena co-founded the school’s Minds Matter Club, a social-emotional and mental health awareness forum, and is varsity captain of the girls cross-country team. She is also director of Go Girls Genius Magazine and is a teaching assistant at the Long Island School of Chinese.    

Even more impressive is Athena’s Junior Academy membership with the New York Academy of Sciences, where as a member of an international team of students, garnered the grand prize at the Regeneron and Medidata Genomics Challenge. During the summer, Athena and her team presented their project “Fighting 7,000” at the NYAS’ Global STEM Alliance Summit. “Fighting 7,000” focused on improving the process of rare disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention of 7,000 known rare diseases affecting more than 350 million individuals worldwide.    

Athena plans on pursuing a degree in neuroscience at Duke University this fall. 

The district congratulates Athena on this outstanding accomplishment.