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MEDIA CONTACT: Christine Dardet

Six FAU High School Seniors Recognized by National Merit Scholarship Corporation

BOCA RATON, FL (April 26, 2012) – Six Florida Atlantic University High School seniors have been recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation — three as finalists and three as commended students.   The National Merit Scholarship Program is a competition for academic recognition and college scholarships.  High school students enter the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) as juniors and are required to score a minimum of 221 out or 240 on their PSAT to qualify for the competition.

"Each FAU High School graduating senior class traditionally includes National Merit Scholars, however, six is an unprecedented number, given that the senior class is made up of 24 students," said FAU President Mary Jane Saunders.  "This recognition speaks to the caliber of students who attend FAU High School, the support of their families, and the quality education they receive from their high school teachers and FAU faculty."

Nationally, approximately 1.5 million juniors took the PSAT in October 2010; 16,000 students nationally and 70 Palm Beach County students were named semifinalists; and about 8,300 will be named National Merit Scholars by the end of the competition in July.  Semifinalists were invited to apply to become finalists by submitting a personal essay, high school grades, a school recommendation and their SAT score.  Finalists became eligible to compete for the National Merit Scholar designation and scholarships sponsored by a private business or corporation, the student's college or the National Merit Scholarship Corp.

The scholarship winners are named in phases depending on what type of scholarship they receive.  Corporate-sponsored scholarship winners were announced on April 18.  On May 2, winners of the National Merit $2,500 Scholarships will be announced, and on May 23 and July 9, the names of winners of college-sponsored merit scholarships will be released.  Because the scholarships come from these varied sources, the amount of money students receive varies.

The FAU High School students who were named finalists by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation are:

  • Christopher Howard, 17, plans to attend the University of Central Florida on a full scholarship this fall to study economics.  Howard became serious about economics during his junior year while taking dual enrollment courses through FAU's College of Business.  He will graduate summa cum laude from FAU High School in May with a 3.95 grade point average (GPA). During his high school career, Howard volunteered over 150 hours for the Palm Beach County Library system, receiving their Youth Volunteer of the Year Award in 2008.
  • Jad Khazem, 17, will earn summa cum laude distinction with a 4.0 from FAU High School and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and a minor in Spanish from FAU when he graduates at the end of this semester.  He worked as a tutor for academically at-risk college students and volunteered hundreds of hours with the Office for Students with Disabilities.  He served as an FAU student senator and interned for former Florida Governor Charlie Crist and State Senator Maria Sachs. Khazem plans to go to law school and pursue a career in public service. 
  • Luizetta Navrazhnykh, 18, became interested in chemistry while taking general and organic chemistry and science courses at FAU. Navrazhnykh will graduate summa cum laude in May with a 3.9 GPA and plans to attend the University of Chicago on a full scholarship to major in chemistry.  She placed first in the Florida state science fair, and in 2010, was a finalist at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in San Jose, California, placing second in her category.  She was one of 300 semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search. Navrazhnykh plans to pursue a career in chemistry and research.

The students who received commendations are:

  • Rachel Chapnick will graduate from FAU High School having completed several college-level arts and humanities courses.  While attending FAU High School and FAU, she authored several news stories for the student-run University Press.
  • Daniel Gucciardo, 17, will graduate from FAU High School in May and FAU in the fall with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. He will use his affinity for math to become an actuary with an emphasis on casualty or life and health after graduation and has already passed one of a series of professional-level exams. 
  • Ashwin Kalyandurg, 17, will graduate summa cum laude from FAU High School in May with a 3.91 GPA.  While attending FAU High School, Kalyandurg has completed biological sciences courses at FAU, and he plans to finish his undergraduate degree in 2014.  After completing his undergraduate degree, he plans to attend medical school to pursue a career in patient care and research.  In his spare time, Kalyandurg enjoys rock climbing and playing the flute.

FAU High School is a highly selective program that provides students in grades nine through 12 with an opportunity to experience college-level courses in the environment of the university classroom, laboratories and support facilities.  The school is administered by Florida Atlantic University Schools, which serve as laboratory schools for FAU's College of Education, offering demonstration and fieldwork sites for FAU students enrolled in bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs. FAU High School recently received an "A" from the Florida Department of Education with a perfect score on the state accountability report.

For more information on FAU High School or the students who have received National Merit Scholarship Corporation recognition, contact David Kelly at 561-297-3970 or


Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 29,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For more information, visit

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