Three young men posing with their national merit letters

While Nacogdoches High School seniors Haris Hashim, Israel Ocampo, and Arya Vyas didn’t seem particularly concerned Thursday when called to the principal’s office, none of the three NHS students knew why.

The members of the Class of 2022 at NHS learned they had been named Commended Students in the National Merit Scholarship Program and received a Letter of Commendation from the corporation that conducts the program. The certificates were presented by principal Stephen Autrey on Thursday and the honor will be a part of the graduation awards ceremony in May 2022 when Haris, Israel, and Arya are wrapping up their high school careers.

“This is a tremendous honor for these three young men,” Autrey said. “They are outstanding students in the classroom and wonderful representatives of Nacogdoches High School.”

They also represent the relative handful of students that receive the Letter of Commendation. About 34,000 Commended Students throughout the nation are being recognized this fall for their exceptional academic promise. 

Although they will not continue in the 2022 competition for National Merit Scholarship awards, Israel, Haris and Arya placed among the top 50,000 students out of the more than 1.5 million who entered the 2022 competition by taking the 2020 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

National Merit Letters of Commendation are also made available to colleges and universities across the nation who will then add the information to recruiting databases.

“Israel, Arya, and Haris are representative of many of the great students we have at Nacogdoches High School,” Autrey said. “I’m extremely proud of what they’ve accomplished and excited about what the future holds for them.”

Haris is the son of Dr. Ahammed Hashim and Dr. Binusha Moitheennaima; Israel Ocampo is the son of Andres Ocampo and Sonia Escobar; Arya Vyas is the son of Dr. Shyam Vyas and Dr. Kavita Vyas.