A Midlothian homeschool student has been named a Semifinalists in the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Martyn Staalsen was one of approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the 62nd annual National Merit Scholarship Program. 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 next spring, according to a National Merit Scholarship program press release.

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship® award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. About 90 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

His parents, Bent and Rachel Staalsen, are enormously proud of the hard work and self discipline their son has invested to achieve the honor of National Merit Semifinalist, but are even prouder of his gentle spirit, humility, and commitment to Jesus Christ. Their son has been homeschooled since pre-school, said Rachel.

“He has particularly enjoyed his studies in history, engineering, robotics, Spanish, mathematics, computer programming, literature, and foreign travel,” she said.

Martyn is a member of Eta Sigma Alpha, the National Homeschool Honor Society, Veritas Life Adventures and served as a co-chairman for Career Pathways Club. He serves on the ministry team of his church youth group at Faith Bible Church and also runs the sound board, writes music, and plays the cello for the EPIC Worship Team. He has performed solos and ensemble work in local nursing homes and at The Lighthouse Coffee Bar in Midlothian.

“He has volunteered with the Bridges Training Foundation, Hearts and Hammers, Pine Cove Christian Camp, AWANA, DasCHE, and Newman Academy Mansfield's Chess Club,” Rachel said.

Martyn is also a Red Cross certified lifeguard, and has worked two summers at Mount Lebanon Baptist Camp in Cedar Hill. He also works as a referee at Madddogz Paintball Park in Waxahachie. In his spare time, he enjoys backpacking, rock climbing, and mountain biking.

When he graduates from high school in May, Martyn will have approximately 55 college credit hours from a combination of AP scores and dual credit courses. He hopes to pursue a degree in either electrical or mechanical engineering.

NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 420 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.

To become a Finalist, the Semifinalist and his or her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the Semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record through- out high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

Contact Bethany Kurtz at 469-517-1450 or email bkurtz@waxahachietx.com. Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BethanyKurtzMidloMirror or on Twitter @bethmidlomirror.