Four Tri-City area high school seniors already know it's unlikely they will have to worry about college expenses.
They won the annual National Merit Scholarship Program competition and will be receiving corporate-sponsored awards financed by about 200 corporations, company foundations and other business organizations.
Each of the National Merit Scholarships going to the Tri-City seniors was funded by Battelle.
According to the news release, the majority of these awards are renewable for up to four years of college undergraduate study and provide annual stipends ranging from $500 to $10,000 a year.
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Hanford High School counselor Debbie Bell said, the three seniors chosen from the Richland school "will most likely get a full ride everywhere they apply. How much they'll receive (in funds) depends on which college or university they attend. It's different at each one."
Recipients can use their award at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university of their choice.
The four Tri-City students, who are part of a group of about 1,000 high school seniors nationwide, are:
-- Rebecca Hu, 17, a student at Hanford High School in Richland, and daughter of Jian Zhi Hu and Mary Hu of Richland.
She is a member of the National Honor Society, Key Club, the Math Team, Science Bowl and treasurer of the International Club. She played tennis and was Associated Student Body president as a freshman and sophomore.
Hu received a Siemens Award for Advance Placement and is a National Advance Placement Scholar. She also received an Energy Solutions Distinguished National Award and received a Masonic Outstanding Junior Award.
She volunteers at Sacajawea Elementary School.
Hu plans a career in medicine or mathematics.
-- Leonie Oostrom, 18, a student at Hanford High School in Richland, and daughter of Mart and Therese Oostrom of Richland.
She plays varsity soccer and is a member of the Drama Club and the National Honor Society. Oostrom is an Advanced Placement Scholar and won first place in the Hanford High School Science Fair this year.
She is an intern at Energy Northwest and volunteers at The Arc of Tri-Cities.
Oostrom plans to become a professor of chemistry.
-- Kayla E. Hatchell, 18, a student at Hanford High School in Richland, and daughter of Brian and Diana Hatchell of West Richland.
She is vice president of the National Honor Society, was named an Advanced Scholar with Distinction and received a Masonic Outstanding Junior Award. She plays varsity tennis and volunteers at The Arc of Tri-Cities.
Hatchell has been a member of the school's wind ensemble for four years, plays in the Pep Band and was accepted for the Washington All-State Concert Band.
She plans a career in medicine.
-- Akshai Baskaran, a student at Kennewick High School and the son of Chitra Sivaraman and Suresh Baskaran of Kennewick
He is a member of the Key Club, National Honor Society and the Knowledge Bowl.
Baskaran was one of five Tri-City high school juniors accepted into Phase One of the 2009-10 program cycle for Washington Aerospace Scholars. It's a competitive educational program based at The Museum of Flight in Seattle. He spent five months studying a NASA-designed, distance-learning curriculum via the internet.
In 2009, he was awarded the top Distinguished Award scholarship, $25,000, from the EnergySolutions Foundation and took first place in his division in the international Intel International Science and Engineering Fair held in Reno, Nev.
In 2010, he was sworn in as the first student representative to the Kennewick School Board.
Baskaran is planning on a career in chemical engineering.