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Whittier High Senior Chosen National Merit Semifinalist

Michael Wheeler
Whittier High School senior Michael Wheeler recently was named a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist.
Wheeler is one of 16,000 semifinalists in the 57th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. He is one of a select group of academically talented high school seniors who have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,300 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $34 million that will be offered in the spring.

Wheeler is ranked #1 at Whittier High School, with a 4.35 GPA, said Whittier High School Principal Lori Eshilian.  He has taken math classes at Whittier High since he was in the seventh grade, and currently is one of two Whittier High students taking a math course at Whittier College.

By the time he graduates in June, Wheeler will have completed 11 Advanced Placement courses ranging from Calculus and Chemistry to History and English. Thus far, he has earned a top score of 5 on seven of the AP tests he has taken and a 4 on one.

“Aside from being a brilliant student, Michael is a humble young man, a good tutor to other students, who works at being a well-rounded student," Eshilian said. 

Wheeler plays guitar, is a member of the tennis team, the Chess Club and the Mathlete Club. He has also been a dedicated volunteer at the Whittier Public Library and says he has been involved with the summer reading program from the time he was a toddler. While he began as a participant, he says he has assisted the library as a summer volunteer since the seventh grade and enjoys working with the children there.

He credits his parents and his older brother Stephen with giving him the encouragement and inspiration to always challenge himself in his studies.

“My brother had a rough time with his Asberger’s Disorder as a child but by the time he was a sophomore in high school he was able to attend Pioneer High School and he ended up graduating fifth in his class in 2009. He’s now in his junior year at UC Santa Cruz studying astrophysics and doing great,” Wheeler said. 

“I’ve always looked up to Stephen because he decided what he wanted to be and worked until he got there. Even though it was difficult for him, he stuck to it and got through,” Wheeler said. 

Wheeler says he hopes to attend Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or the California Institute of Technology. He would like to major in mathematics, but is also considering a major in physics or computer science.

“I’m honored by the recognition,” Wheeler said. “It shows that my efforts to challenge myself have paid off.”