Woodlands Academy senior wins National Merit corporate award

Elizabeth Coughlin, a Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart senior from Northbrook, is among the first winners in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. According to a recent announcement from the Evanston-based nonprofit organization, she’s one about 1,000 winners of corporate-sponsored scholarship awards financed by about 160 corporations and business organizations.

Recipients were selected from students who advanced to the finalist level of the National Merit competition and met eligibility requirements set by the sponsors of their scholarships. Coughlin, who plans to pursue a career in astrophysics, was awarded a National Merit AbbVie Inc. Scholarship. The pharmaceutical company sponsors this scholarship to recognize outstanding students who are children of its employees.

“I am so very proud of Elizabeth for achieving this national recognition of all her hard work and outstanding academic performance during her years at Woodlands Academy,” said Head of School Meg Steele. “I’d also like to thank the members of our faculty for creating an environment here that prepares girls for college and beyond by empowering them to lead, compete, engage and explore.”

Most of the corporate-sponsored scholarships provide four years of annual stipends ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. This source of funding has been provided in all 65 National Merit competitions by corporations representing nearly all sectors of American industry.

Coughlin will be attending Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, in the fall. “I’m so grateful for how well Woodlands Academy has prepared me for college and beyond,” she said. “Woodlands has allowed me to grow greatly both as a student and as a person. I’ve been challenged in my classes, encouraged by my teachers, and supported by my peers.”  

The 2020 National Merit Scholarship competition began during the last school year with more than 1.5 million juniors taking a taking a preliminary exam. Coughlin was announced as one of approximately 16,000 semifinalists nationwide, including the highest-scoring entrants in each state, last fall. Advancing to the finalist level is based on such factors as the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received.