Two El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) students are El Paso County’s lone National Merit Scholarship semifinalists, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022.
Deena Al-Dahwi, from Coronado High School, and Anna Dixon, from Franklin High School, are among the more than 16,000 semifinalists in the 68th annual National Merit Scholarship program. Al-Dahwi and Dixon will be competing for 7,250 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $28 million. National Merit Scholars are announced in the spring.
Al-Dahwi, who’s among the top 1% of her graduating class, received a near-perfect 1560 on her SAT. An International Baccalaureate student and AP Scholar with a passion for classical piano, Al-Dahwi founded the school’s Scientists without Borders Club with her twin sister, Lilo. She also is an All-State Choir student involved in National Honor Society, Key Club and HOSA – Future Health Professionals.
“I was beyond thrilled and honored by the news,” Al-Dahwi said. “The 2021 test was quite challenging versus past papers, and the Texas National Merit cutoff is amongst the highest within the states. Making it to semifinalist is a wonderful reward for the hours of hard work.”
Al-Dahwi has applied to the University of Texas at El Paso, the University of Texas at Austin and Rice University.
Dixon, who is No. 3 in her class, is applying to a long list of colleges including Stanford University, UT Austin, Georgia Tech, Caltech and Brigham Young University. She plans to study engineering and applied physics with a possible minor in computer science. Dixon learned early Wednesday about the National Merit semifinalist recognition.
“I was called into the principal’s office and was terrified I had done something wrong,” Dixon said. “When Ms. (Amanda) Bowser told me the good news, I cried tears of joy. I was so happy that my hard work and worrying finally paid off. I immediately called my mom and dad to celebrate with them, too.”
The senior, who moved to Franklin last year, quickly got involved on campus. She’s president of Franklin DECA, the energy and environment chair for Student Council and secretary of National Honor Society. She is also involved in Future Business Leaders of America, Key Club, Mu Alpha Theta, UIL Mathematics and the Compassion Club.
El Paso ISD has traditionally been one of the few districts in El Paso County with National Merit semifinalists and finalists. El Paso County’s only two 2022 National Merit Scholars were Luke Miller and Samuel Kligman, Coronado graduates who now attend Princeton University.