Farmington’s Eli Briody-Pavlik kicks the ball to score a goal in a game against Miyamura on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, at Hutchison Stadium in
Farmington's Eli Briody-Pavlik kicks the ball to score a goal in a game against Miyamura on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, at Hutchison Stadium in Farmington. (Daily Times file photo)

FARMINGTON — When the semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship Program were announced last week, one area high school senior was surprised to make the list.

Eli Briody-Pavlik, a senior at Farmington High School, was the only semifinalist selected from area school districts.

About 16,000 semifinalists were announced on Wednesday, and about 85 students were from New Mexico.

Briody-Pavlik said he was excited to be selected for the scholarship program.

"It's great. It's a huge honor. I'm really glad I made it this far," Briody-Pavlik said. "There is still a long ways to go. There are multiple levels, and being at this level is really great."

The semifinalists were selected from about 1.5 million juniors nationwide who took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in the fall of their junior year, according to news release.

The students chosen as semifinalists represent less than 1 percent of all high school seniors.

About 90 percent of semifinalists advance to finalists. At that level, students are eligible for about 8,000 scholarships that are worth about $35 million.

Briody-Pavlik took the PSAT his junior year to prepare for the SAT tests this year and to adjust to the whole testing system.

"It wouldn't cross my mind to be considered for national accolades like this. It's amazing actually," Briody-Pavlik said.

His mother, Mary Ann Briody, said she was proud of her son for being selected for the scholarship program. She hopes it will help him as he applies for colleges this year.

"He's always been very excited about college. He takes it very seriously," Briody said.

Briody-Pavlik keeps busy playing varsity soccer and tennis. He has volunteered with the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of San Juan County for three years and spent 10 years working at the Salvation Army holiday food drive.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or jkellogg@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter @jkelloggdt.