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Tuesday, October 21, 2014
OHS teens named merit semifinalists
Young women looking to pursue careers in math, science
By Howard Schwach
Courtesy Oceanside schools
The three OHS seniors who earned semifinalist status in the prestigious National Merit Scholarship process are, from left, Brittany Kwait, Marissa Colasacco and Stephanie Nagel. They are pictured with new Oceanside High School Principal Geraldine DeCarlo.

Three Oceanside High School seniors are well on their way to careers in mathematics and science, thanks to high scores in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

All three were named semifinalists last week, the first step toward winning a college scholarship from the nonprofit organization, having scored at or above 219 on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which has a maximum score of 240. Officials at the College Board, which administers the test, said the average score is around 160.

The three seniors are Marissa Colasacco, 17, Brittany Kwait, 17, and Stephanie Nagel, 16.

Nagel, who studied hard for the test, scored a 225, which makes her a good bet for a slot as a finalist. “My score was impressive, and it makes me proud,” she said. “It’s something to be in the top 1 percent in the nation on a test like that.”

Nagel told the Herald that she wants to be an actuary and work in risk management. And she doesn’t want to go away to college, looking instead to local schools such as Hofstra, Columbia and New York University, with Queens College also in the mix.

“I made my parents proud,” she added. “My mom helped me a lot by motivating me. She pointed out that the test, which is thought by many kids to be unimportant, is really important.”

Nagel finished calculus last year, and during the summer took an online advanced calculus class. At Oceanside High, she is involved with the Math League and the Hebrew Culture Club.

Colasacco, on the other hand, went into the test “underprepared,” as she described it. She said she didn’t study at all, thinking of the test as a pretest for the “real SAT” and a chance to see which areas she needed to work on. She scored 219.

Colasacco said she wasn’t surprised that she got a perfect score on the math section, but she was surprised that she did so well on the English section.

She hopes to go to either Columbia or Tufts to study mechanical engineering. Her ultimate dream is to work for NASA, helping to put vehicles into space.

Colasacco is the captain of the OHS girls’ soccer team and a member of the track team, specializing in the 400-meter dash. “Sports isn’t a priority for me in college,” she said, “but I am pretty dedicated, and run every day.”

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