HHS senior titled National Merit Scholarship semifinalist, valedictorian

rsz_img_1669By Staff Writer: Marissa VanDaelen

Receiving scholarships can be very beneficial for students who wish to enter college. Depending on the type of scholarship, they can pay for a variety of different things. Sometimes they can even pay for an entire college career. Howell High School’s senior Grace Katalinich has recently been named a semifinalist for a National Merit Scholarship and is excited for what it could potentially bring her.

“Fifteen-thousand of the 16,000 become finalists for this scholarship so I have a good shot. It’s almost guaranteed. Basically if you write the essay well, it’s practically guaranteed,” Katalinich says.

To become a finalist, semifinalists must complete an application along with an essay, be endorsed by their high school principal, have a record of academic performance, and send in their SAT scores.

“Essentially, it’s a lot of paperwork. I had to send in my SAT scores, which is no big deal. I basically used a college application essay for my essay. I mean, it’s nice because I’ll be pretty much guaranteed a full ride to most places if this works out,” Katalinich says.

Out of the 15,000 students that become finalists, 8,000 students will be chosen to receive the scholarship. Katalinich remains hopeful that she will be one of those students.

“It’s nice because there’s a lot more financial security for undergrad. I have a nice chance to get a healthy scholarship and almost all the semifinalists go on to be finalists and get some sort of scholarship through a college. Now I just have to pick a college that will give me the most money,” Katalinich laughs.

Although Katalinich is unsure of what college she wants to attend, she certainly knows what she wants to do with her life and is completely devoted to doing what makes her happy.

“I’m going to major in clarinet performance. I’ve been looking at different colleges based on basically their clarinet professors and their reputations as music schools. So I’m going to get an undergrad degree in performance and maybe dual major in composition as well because it’s something that’s interested me for a while but I haven’t had time to go after,” Katalinich says.

Katalinich also plans to get a master’s degree so that she can teach at a university until she gets a job in orchestra, which can take a long time. She is very determined to pursue all of her dreams and will do whatever it takes until she reaches her goals.

“I’m definitely excited for life after high school. I feel we don’t get to specialize early enough. It’s a lot of burden still being here, having to go through all the hoops. You still have to take all your seven classes, you have to take a bunch of AP classes to keep your class rank, and I guess it’s getting a little old. I’m ready to specialize and go after what I really want to do for a career,” Katalinich says.

In addition, Katalinich is working hard to achieve the class of 2014 valedictorian. She is currently number one in the class rank.

“It’s exciting, something I’ve been working for for a long time. Obviously I’ve always tried to be the best amongst my peers. It’s been a goal for me. So finally reaching that is great. It’s taken a long time, a lot of work, but it’s definitely a worthy pay off for all the effort I put in,” Katalinich says.

Having dual dreams of being class valedictorian and a musician can be difficult at times. Katalinich wishes she could have spent more time devoted to music during her high school career and less on AP classes, but she’s content with the outcome overall.

“I want to do valedictorian but I also want to be a musician and they kind of conflict because the classes you need to take to be valedictorian are all AP in these academic areas and they’re not in music. But it’s rewarding because it proves that I really did work hard and got both things done,” Katalinich says.

Furthermore, Katalinich is almost always busy, and with the stress of keeping her class rank, she has her family to support her and be with her every step of the way.

“My family definitely holds personal responsibility as the highest moral and achieving is very important to us. My parents always encourage to go for the A’s, go to learn the most, and get the most out of your education. They’ve also supported me in music which is nice because they thought I was going to end up being a lawyer or a doctor, and at first they were a little bit hesitant, but they do support me in my career which is really nice,” Katalinich says.

Speaking of support, Katalinich has also had a lot of wonderful teachers that have helped her to grow.

“I’d like to give a thank you to all of my teachers. I’ve had a lot of really good people who’ve supported me and nourished me. Obviously my family has supported me from the start. But Oglesby and Smigell perhaps just specifically because they’ve really inspired me to be the best I can be. They’re so passionate about their own fields. They’re nice role models for me,” Katalinich says.