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Kiera Dent ‘20 Awarded National Merit Scholarship to Study Astronomy

Kiera Dent ‘20 is on a mission to uncover the hidden mysteries of the universe.

“There is so much we can learn from other planets and moons, but so much we’ve yet to explore,” she said.

Last month, Kiera was awarded the National Merit Raytheon Scholarship, sponsored by Raytheon Company which, according to its website, “supports educational initiatives that inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and business professionals.”

Kiera was one of the 1.6 million students entered into the National Merit Scholarship competition by taking the 2018 PSAT as a junior in high school. Representing the highest-scoring entrants in their states (and less than 1 percent of seniors), Kiera and 16,000 semifinalists advanced to the final round. Ultimately, Kiera was among approximately 1,000 high school seniors to receive corporate-sponsored National Merit Scholarship awards for their distinguished academic performance (as displayed by their school and standardized test records), extracurricular accomplishments, and “potential for success in rigorous college studies”, as defined by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

This fall, Kiera plans to study physics and astronomy at the undergraduate level, drawing inspiration from Dr. Katie Bouman, a computer scientist who contributed to the first ever picture of a black hole.

“Her breakthrough allowed us to see something previously thought to be unseeable,” Kiera extolled. “She’s empowered me to do the same.”

Long term, Kiera aspires to take part in scientific space missions that investigate the solar system. As she embraces the next phase of her mission, Kiera reflects on what she will carry from her Visitation experience:

“I enjoy learning through the lens of astronomy - I’ve studied constellations through the telescopes in astronomy club, and a guest lecturer from NASA recently visited my math class,” said Kiera. “This an exciting journey in which I hope to discover more about the past and future of the universe.”

Congratulations, and keep shining, Kiera!

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