Inglemoor High School students named National Merit Scholarship winners

Both Kolde and Leotta committed hours to study for the Preliminary
SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, and it paid off. Courtesy photos

By Meghan McLaughlin

Seniors Sofia Leotta and Sebastian Kolde received $2,500 in scholarship funds after being selected from a pool of 16,000 finalists in the National Merit Scholarship program. Each student has unique passions and interests they plan to pursue after graduating from Inglemoor High School.

“It was really exciting to find out that I was selected for a scholarship,” Leotta said, “because I know that will make a big difference in support of my education journey moving forward.”

Leotta is an International Baccalaureate student this year, and she is also president of Inglemoor’s Earth Corps club. Off-campus, Leotta interns at Sustainability Ambassadors and has picked up roller skating since the beginning of the pandemic. 

“Outside of academic work, I really care about environmentalism,” Leotta said. “Especially finding ways to include sustainability in different aspects of our lives and especially integrating that within communities I’ve become a part of.”

Kolde volunteered at Seattle Aquarium for a year and a half during high school, where he took marine biology classes and acted as a resource for aquarium visitors. He also works at a bubble tea shop. He plays the oboe and has participated in the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Conservatory of Music and local festivals. 

Kolde is mainly interested in synthetic biology and how people can alter genetic makeup in ways that are useful. He has interned at a Seattle genetics lab and hopes to one day go to medical school.

“I’m also pretty interested in the organization Doctors Without Borders,” Kolde said. “I think it would be cool to be a field doctor for them.”

Both Leotta and Kolde described the process of entering and participating in the National Merit Scholarship program as simple. Leotta studied using Khan Academy and other free resources. She was thankful for the teachers at Inglemoor and the local library staff who helped her gather test preparation materials. Kolde expressed gratitude to his parents for their support while he studied for the test.

Leotta will attend the University of Washington and plans on studying civil or environmental engineering. Kolde will attend McGill University in Montreal, where the financial component of his award is not valid, but Kolde remains appreciative of his accomplishment.

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