ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – An Abilene ISD senior has been named a semifinalist for the 2024 National Merit Scholarship.

ATEMS senior Dathan Dillinger is one of more than 16,000 high school seniors moving forward in the competition. Out of those, about 7,140 will be National Merit Scholars and will receive awards totaling nearly $28 million in scholarships.

The semifinalists from across the nation represent less than one percent of High School seniors. It is expected that approximately 95% of semifinalists will advance to the finalist stage, with about half of the finalists being awarded the national merit scholarship and the title of Merit Scholar.

Courtesy of Abilene ISD

To become a finalist, Dillinger and a school official must submit a detailed application including academic record, extracurricular activities, leadership abilities, awards and more. According to a press release from Abilene ISD, Dillinger is one of the most accomplished musicians in the district.

Dillinger is a member of the Cooper High School orchestra and has been selected as a Texas Music Educators Association Texas Music Scholar twice. Last year, he earned all-region honors for a first-division Class 1 solo at the state Solo and Ensemble contest, and he performed with a quartet that received a first-division rating in a Class 1 ensemble.

Semifinalists will be notified if they have advanced to the finalist level in February. Those awarded the title of Merit Scholar are selected based on skills, accomplishments and potential for college success.

The 2024 National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced between April and July. The scholarship recipients will join nearly 375,000 distinguished individuals who have earned the Merit Scholar title.