GSSM Celebrates 14 National Merit Semifinalists

Hartsville, SC – Fourteen students from the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science & Mathematics (GSSM) are among the 16,000 semifinalists named in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. These academically accomplished students are now eligible for continued competition in the program, which awards National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million each spring.

GSSM's 2020 National Merit Semifinalists are:

Daniel Coble, child of Cheryl and Larry Coble from West Columbia
Ethan Fulton, child of Janine and Mike Fulton from Simpsonville
Randi M Jennings, child of John Jennings from Myrtle Beach
Hannah Kenis, child of Katie Arndt and Andrew Kenis from Jamestown
Dorathea Lee, child of Pamela Lee from Moncks Corner
Madelyne LeVassiur, child of Jocelyn and Justin LeVassiur from Fort Mill
Eric Niu, child of Qun Wang and Xiaokai Niu from Hartsville
Patricio Ortiz, child of Cristina and Alfredo Ortiz from Simpsonville
Theophilus Pedapolu, child of Rosy Chinnam and Samadhanam Pedapolu from Orangeburg
Rajat Sethi, child of Sonali and Rahul Sethi from Fort Mill
Brad Singer, child of Mary Ruth and Scott Singer from Aiken
Houston Taylor, child of Laura and Ray Taylor from Florence
Ashley Terry, child of Teresa and Jay Terry from Greer
John Pearson Turner, child of Dr. Stephanie Compton Turner and Dr. Allan Pearson Turner from Greenwood

“We are delighted by and extremely proud of the continued level of excellence that SCGSSM students demonstrate on a national level,” remarked Dr. Ershela Sims, GSSM Interim President.

More than 1.5 million juniors in 21,000 high schools entered the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®). The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. To become a Finalist, a Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® or ACT® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

Approximately 93 percent of Semifinalists are expected to become Finalists. All National Merit Scholarship winners are selected from this group of Finalists. National Merit Scholarship winners of 2020 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These recipients will join more than 345,000 other Merit Scholar title recipients. For more information, visit

About GSSM
Founded in 1988, the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science & Mathematics is a nationally recognized school serving over four hundred of the state's most accomplished STEM students in the 10th through 12th grades through its residential and virtual programs. GSSM offers college-level courses and experiences in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics at its campus in Hartsville. The school also delivers virtual curricula in engineering and STEM disciplines to students in partner school districts throughout the state. GSSM’s dynamic outreach programs, including science summer camps and teacher training, impact over 5,000 K-12 students every year. Learn more by visiting

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