By Dan Arritt     3/12/2018

Three students from JSerra Catholic High School’s graduating class of 2018 have advanced to the Finalist standing in the National Merit Scholarship Program: Austin Brotman, Deven Douglas, and Steven Chu. Having three finalists from the same class of just 267 students is impressive as only 0.94 percent of the nation’s 1.6 million entrants advance to the Finals. 

A model student before a paralyzing spinal injury, Austin Brotman continues to be a voracious learner (carrying a challenging course load on the high school and university level) as well as a leader. Brotman coaches and encourages his former water polo teammates from the pool deck, and has raised over $30,000 the Spinal Cord Injury Scholars Fund that he founded soon after his life-changing injury. Instead of being a surgeon, he now wants to be a doctor specializing in pain management. He is a student in the JSerra Medical Magnet Program. 

Determined to take advantage of the most challenging courses at JSerra since his previous school did not offer Advanced Placement, Steven Chu transferred to JSerra during his junior year and has since achieved 5’s in all of his AP exams. Last summer he conducted scientific research with a professor in Shanghai; together they discovered new technology that will be published in a scientific journal. In his spare time, he mentors new transfer students and contributes hundreds of hours teaching tennis to children with disabilities. 

With a strong foundation in engineering owing to the JSerra Engineering Magnet Program, Deven Douglas has a passion for the STEM field and enjoys competing in Robotics competitions, assisting in Engineering Summer Camps for younger children, and tutoring others in math and science. He is also the President of JSerra’s Sailing Club and Cyberpatriot Club. 

Brotman and Douglas recently achieved the elusive “36” — the perfect score on the rigorous standardized college admission exam, the ACT (American College Testing). The odds of a perfect ACT are extremely rare: only one-tenth of 1 percent of 2.1 million students from the graduating class of 2016 were able to log a perfect composite score.