JACKSON TWP.  Jackson High School senior Danielle Veigel didn't know anybody who has been the recipient of a National Merit Scholarship. So, Veigel was surprised once she got the news in April that she was selected for the $1,000 corporate-sponsored scholarship.

Veigel's corporate sponsor was American Electric Power (AEP). She said she feels honored to have won.

"I’ve put a lot of work into my academics throughout and I feel honored to have won this scholarship," she said.

Veigel is preparing to attend the University of Cincinnati through a separate four-year full tuition-only scholarship. She said she has to pay for meals and books and the National Merit scholarship will help with those expenses.

Planning to major in chemical engineering, Veigel is leaning toward working in an environmental field. Jackson’s guidance counselor Courtney Armsey said Veigel has a 4.6 grade point average and has filled her class schedule with AP courses.

"Danielle is an amazing student," Armsey said. "She’s humble and a great representative of our student body here at Jackson."

Veigel had a long path to the scholarship. She first took the PSAT in her sophomore year and came out in the 99 percentile. Then she completed an application. Her school counselor had to also fill out information for the application. She also had to take the SAT and complete a short essay.

The essay topic could have been about a person of influence in her life, a memorable experience or about obstacles she had to overcome. Veigel said she wrote the essay about all three.

She has a twin sister named Alexis and Danielle wrote about individuality and her relationship with her twin. She included some of the struggles of being a twin and some of the advantages.

"Alexis has always been more interested in English and I’ve always been more interested in math and science. Those differences helped us encourage each other to pursue other interests," Veigel said.

She also has an older brother, Justin, who is an admissions counselor at a college and she said he helped her with the process. Veigel said her parents, Gina and Steve, have also been central in her success.

"I just want to thank my parents and my siblings for all of their help and overwhelming support. My parents always told me that the grades didn’t matter, what mattered was always doing my best and that always encouraged me to do my best. The staff at Jackson has also been supportive and caring," Veigel said. "Everyone in my life has been so supportive and has pushed me to succeed and I think that’s amazing."

Veigel also participated in the Jackson School of the Arts and played softball among other extracurricular activities.

The 2018 National Merit Scholarship Competition had more than 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools enter. The PSAT and the Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test serves as an initial screening after which 16,000 semifinalists were designated. The semifinalists were the highest scoring program entrants.

To advance to finalist, students were required to complete a detailed application including writing an essay and providing information about extracurricular activities, awards and leadership positions. They also had to be endorsed and recommended by a high school official and earn SAT scores that met the scholarship requirements.