Bergner named National Merit Scholarship finalist

She will be heading to the University of Maine for the upcoming school year
Luke Reimer

Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School senior Taylor Bergner was recently announced as a finalist for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

According to the National Merit website, the program was created to identify and honor academically talented students in the United States of America. The program increases support for the students’ education through scholarships. Bergner is one of approximately 15,000 students throughout the country to be named a finalist and be awarded with scholarship money. The scholarship is $2,500.

“After I was notified that I was a semi-finalist, I had to fill out another application, write an essay and then get recommended by my counselor,” said Bergner. “We submitted that and then all of those applications got reviewed from the semi-finalists and from that application, I was then chosen as a finalist — which is as far as you can go.”

In order to become a finalist, Bergner said that the program looked at her high school transcript, ACT score, an essay that she wrote and that letter of recommendation from Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School counselor Stephanie Gruber.

“I wrote the essay on growing up in rural, small-town Wisconsin and how my perspective changed from that being something that kind of limited me to something that was able to help me grow,” said Bergner. “I feel like when I was younger, I always kind of thought that our school does not have the resources of a bigger school — that there are not a ton of opportunities that you might have in a bigger city or a bigger school.

“The older that I have gotten and the longer that I have been here, the more that I realized that being able to make those personal connections with my teachers, peers and community members has allowed me to get involved in a way that I would not have been able to in a bigger school.”

Bergner said that with those strong connections and relationships, she has gotten the support that she has needed to succeed in school, something that she was not sure would happen in a larger school district.

When she was selected as a finalist, Bergner said that she, her parents and school officials were more than excited to hear the news.

“It was really, really exciting,” said Bergner. “Mr. (Stuart) Russ pulled me out of class and he gave me the certificate, and I immediately called my mom and let her know — she was so excited and I was so excited, because it is a big deal.”

With all of her hard work paying off in the form of the National Merit Scholarship, Bergner said that she worked hard due to her love for academics.

“I have always loved school, obviously,” said Bergner. “I really, really wanted to go to college debt-free and because of National Merit, I am going to be able to do that, which is pretty exciting.”

In regard to her plans for college, Bergner will be attending the University of Maine and will major in civil and environmental engineering. She added that she is going to minor in Spanish, with a possibility of later adding a double major, to be determined.

“The University of Maine, by far, gave me the best financial aid offer, so I won’t have to take out any student loans,” said Bergner. “They are also an R1 research institution and that means that they have a certain amount of research positions available. They also publish a certain amount of papers every year; they have a certain amount of money every year that goes into research. So R1 kind of means that they are the cream of the crop. That is really important to me, because I want to go into scientific research.”

As Bergner will graduate from Witt-Birn at the end of the school year, she just has a few things to finish up before beginning the next chapter in her academic career.

“These last few weeks are really busy,” said Bergner. “They are really, really fun, but it is really bittersweet. I am finishing up all of these clubs that I have been involved in the past four years.”