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Meet Loyola's Five National Merit Finalists

In February, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation named five of Loyola Academy’s six National Merit semifinalists as finalists. The National Merit Scholarship Program honors individual students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies.
To advance to finalist standing, each of the students below fulfilled several requirements including: submitting a detailed scholarship application and providing information about his or her academic record, participation in school and community activities, leadership abilities, employment and honors and awards received. Nationwide, about half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth about $33 million that will be offered in the spring.  

The Loyola community congratulates the following five members of the senior class:

Christian L. Carini

Christian L. Carini is a dedicated student-athlete who strives for excellence both in and outside the classroom. “Loyola has challenged me to push myself in my studies and in athletics to be the best that I can be,” he says. A four-year member of the Crew Team, Christian balances his time between practice, a demanding course load and a number of cocurricular activities. He is a Clavius Scholar and treasurer of the Chess Club and participates in Loyola’s Leadership Development and Mentor Program. With a busy schedule during the academic year, Christian volunteers during the summer at the Misericordia Teens Outreach Program. In college, he plans to study science or engineering. In the meantime, Christian continues to enjoy AP Physics with Mr. Steven Lowe—his favorite class at Loyola because of the “intense critical thinking required.”

Brendan J. Egan

As a Dumbach Scholar and president and founder of Loyola Academy’s Chess Club, Brendan J. Egan is used to problem solving and tackling difficult questions. But asking him to name his favorite class at Loyola might be the only question he can’t answer. “This question is impossible,” he laughs. Brendan continues, “Ancient Greek with Dr. William Lowe. The ancient Greeks knew so much about what it means to be human. It has helped me put my own life into a new perspective.” Brendan is actively involved with service at Loyola as a leader of Pax Christi, a participant in the Arrupe Service Program, the vice president of Torch Club and a member of the LA Service Team. “The experiences I have had at St. Thomas of Canterbury Soup Kitchen have created many meaningful memories,” he says. “Sharing meals is an incredibly special thing because of the relationships it creates. The meals...create an incredible community between everyone involved: server or served.” Brendan is also a member of the Classics Club, an actor in this fall’s play and has spent three years on the Varsity Baseball Team. With this unique range of interests and talents, Brendan intends to study in college either anatomy to become a surgeon or biomedical engineering with a focus on the use of nanotechnology. “Loyola has helped me realize the person that I want to become,” he says. “Though I am still working on that person, I learn a little bit more about how to better live like that each day. Loyola has really opened me up to many different parts of myself that I didn't know I had. This of course includes interests like chess, guitar or theater. More importantly, it has shown me my capacity for creating love and community, which changes hearts, and this is exactly what I have felt at Loyola.”

Michael J. Finnegan

“I’ve always been fascinated with science, history and a general love of knowledge,” says Michael J. Finnegan. It comes as no surprise, then, that Michael serves as the co-captain of Loyola’s Scholastic Bowl Team, of which he has been a member since freshman year. He remembers serving as a moderator of the middle school scholastic bowl tournament, which Loyola hosts every fall. “It was a great way for me to give back to the school while also doing the activity that I love,” he says. Michael is a Clavius Scholar, plays trombone in the marching band, has been taking piano lessons for the last 10 years, is a member of the Adventure Games Club and is active in his Boy Scout troop. “Loyola has provided both an excellent environment for developing and honing my talents, but also the opportunity to make plenty of new friends with the same interests that I have,” Michael says. “There's also a peace of mind that comes with being part of the Rambler community; if things ever get stressful for me, I have the full confidence that both Loyola's staff and student body will be willing to support me and help me along every step of the way.” Michael is leaning towards an engineering major in college.

Luke A. Michels

“Loyola has given me all the resources and encouragement I could ever want to develop my physical, intellectual and emotional self,” says Luke A. Michels. “Loyola has been amazing to me.” Luke is a Clavius Scholar, on the Varsity Volleyball Team, president of the Ping Pong Club, treasurer of both the Senior Student Council and Lurie Children’s Hospital Bridges Board, a participant in the Arrupe Service Program and senior mentor for freshman Formation. “My most meaningful service has been through the Lurie Children's Hospital Bridges Board. We host an annual dance marathon to improve the lives of the hospital's patients. Last year at our first dance marathon, which was a complete success, several patients’ families told their stories to the dancers, and a patient even brought his band to play for the dance. This memory is very meaningful to me because, in this moment, I saw how our service directly helped specific people and how it really made a profound difference.” Luke plans to pursue a major in either engineering, finance or math, but isn’t putting too much pressure on himself to decide right now. “At Loyola, I have learned more than knowledge,” he reflects. “I have learned how to think.”

Elizabeth A. Petersen

While many seniors in high school have only a general sense of what they might study in college, Elizabeth A. Petersen has narrowed it down to two specific fields—computer science or computer/electrical engineering. “I loved my computer science class with Mr. Tom Kane,” she says. “This class got me interested in the field. Without this class, I wouldn’t have developed a passion for the subject and wouldn’t even have considered studying it in college.” Elizabeth is a member of Loyola’s Programming Club, the Science Olympiad Team, the Math Team and the Classics Club. She was a team captain of the Varsity Bowling Team her junior year and did service work in Cairo, Illinois, this past summer helping an elderly homeowner with necessary yard work. Elizabeth is grateful for her experience at Loyola and the path that led her to her passion. “The numerous clubs Loyola offers helped me identify what I like to do. I was able to figure out the direction in which I'd like to take my life,” she says. “I also developed a support system of teachers and friends who share my interests and are genuinely concerned for my well-being. Loyola provided an environment that allowed me to try something new and encouraged me to dig deeper and expand my knowledge in a particular field.”

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