Local scholars: a Q&A with Deptford’s two National Merit Scholarship recipients

The Sun sat down with Brown and Narayan to ask how they feel about being recipients, what drives them to work so hard and what’s next for the future.  

Pictured, from left, are seniors Megan Brown and Chinmayee Narayan, who have been named Commended Students in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Two students from Deptford High School recently received the Letter of Commendation from the National Merit Scholarship program. 

Seniors Megan Brown and Chinmayee Narayan have been named Commended Students in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Brown and Narayan placed among the top 50,000 high scorers of more than 1.5 million students who entered the 2020 competition by taking the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, according to the district. Although Commended Students do not continue in the competition for National Merit Scholarships, some of these students do become candidates for Special Scholarships sponsored by corporations and businesses, according to the program’s website. 

The school was given prior notice by the program in April that it had two students who qualified for the recognition. It wasn’t until the beginning of September when the school received an official letter confirming the receipts. 

The Sun sat down with Brown and Narayan to ask how they feel about being recipients, what drives them to work so hard and what’s next for the future.  

The Sun: It’s been almost a year since you took the PSAT. What was your reaction when you heard that you received this recognition in September?

Brown: I wasn’t expecting it at all. I mean I was excited about it because I didn’t even think that I would be getting that. A lot of people have been saying congratulations and it’s just been really exciting and still kind of surprising.  

Narayan: My guidance counselor mentioned late last year when we met to discuss senior year course work that he was confident that someone, even maybe me, could potentially get a National Merit Scholarship. But I kind of just brushed it off because I was more focused on the SAT and my AP exams at that point. When I found out that I was a National Merit Scholar, I was completely blindsided. 

The Sun: How about your families? What was their reaction?

Narayan: My dad actually works in Ohio and he lives out there for an easier commute to work. I didn’t tell him until the end of the week, but I told my mom when I got home. She told me I needed to tell my dad in person, so I waited until Friday when we had our family dinner together. It’s not very often for them to say that they’re really proud of me. That was a really big moment for me. 

Brown: My mom works in the school district, so somehow she found out on the same day. She was mad at me for not telling her, but she didn’t know that I found out the same day as her. A lot of people found out really quickly and a lot of people have been saying congratulations. My parents have been really proud of me. My mom will brag about it. She was at church the other day and pulled out a picture and said “look, my daughter is a National Merit Scholar.” 

The Sun: What drives you to work so hard in academia?

Narayan: My parents worked very hard for us to be in this country. When we first got here, we did not have insurance and we were living in a one-bedroom apartment. I am very aware of what they’ve given up to get me here, and I guess that’s what motivates me. I don’t want to let them down because I know just how much, especially my mom, has sacrificed to bring me here. 

The Sun: Where did you emigrate from?

Narayan: I was born in India. We came from India. 

The Sun: What age did you come to America?

Narayan: I was 1 year old when I came here. 

The Sun: How about you, Megan? What drives you to work so hard in academia?

Brown: For me, it’s always been something that I’ve really been excelling at. I’ve been the “smart kid” and it’s almost like I want to live up to that expectation. I’m trying to stay consistent but also try to achieve my dreams of going to a good college. 

The Sun: That’s perfect for my next question. What’s next for you? 

Narayan: I’m going to college for biomedical engineering. I’m really looking into three-plus-four-year programs because I want to do my undergrad in biomedical engineering with a focus on pre-med so I can go to medical school. I’m not sure what medicine I want to specialize in, but I definitely want to go to medical school. 

Brown: I want to go to MIT for aerospace engineering and then work somewhere like NASA or Boeing because I really like outer space and I really want to design something to go to outer space.