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LAKE CHARLES — St. Louis Catholic High School seniors Ethan Hebert and Caroline Obluda both achieved perfect 36 ACT scores earlier in their high school careers, and now as graduation approaches, they are also National Merit Finalists.

Only about 1% (15,000 out of 1.5 million) of the U.S. high school students who took the PSAT/NMSQT® in October 2018 and met other program participation requirements reach National Merit Finalist standing. All Merit Scholarship® winners (Merit Scholar® awardees) will be chosen from this elite group of finalists based on their abilities, skills and accomplishments. Hebert and Obluda were named among the 16,000 National Merit semifinalists in September 2019.


Hebert said being a National Merit Finalist will enable him to attend Louisiana Tech University and major in Cyber Engineering.

“When I first took the PSAT, I didn’t know what National Merit was at all,” Hebert said.  “I didn’t think scholarships like this actually happened to people – it seemed just like a movie thing.  This will help a tremendous amount with college financially.”

Hebert also strongly advises his fellow classmates to take the PSAT seriously.

“Everybody gives so much attention to the ACT, which does have its rewards, but a high score on the PSAT can directly give students scholarships, something the ACT doesn’t do,” said Hebert, a graduate of Our Lady Queen of Heaven School.  “Students need to be advised of the amount of opportunity that is in this test and scholarship.  From freshman year, I was always hoping for some miraculous scholarship that would be the culmination of all my hard work in high school, and that’s exactly what National Merit Finalist turned out to be.”

Obluda is an alumna of Immaculate Conception Cathedral School in Lake Charles whose dream job is to work at NASA some day. She credited her parents and St. Louis Catholic teachers for reaching Finalist status.

“I am honored to be named as a Finalist,” Obluda said.  “I am very grateful for the opportunity to earn a scholarship, and I appreciate the recognition for the work I’ve done the past four years. I’m currently deciding between studying at Colorado School of Mines or Louisiana Tech, majoring in mechanical engineering and possibly astrophysics.  Either way, I’d like to work at NASA someday and discover new things in the universe.”

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