National Merit Scholar Sarunas Budreckis | Photo by YISD
Sarunas Budreckis, a senior at Eastwood High School, was surprised in class Wednesday morning by Ysleta ISD Superintendent Dr. Xavier De La Torre, who announced that Sarunas is a finalist a 2020 National Merit Scholarship for outstanding academics and leadership.
Sarunas is among about 14,000 students nationwide to be named a 2020 National Merit Scholarship finalist, which offers more than $31 million in college- and corporate-funded scholarships.
Sarunas first qualified for the National Merit program in 2018, when he earned one of the country’s highest scores on the PSAT taken by more than 1.5 million high-school juniors.
Over the last few years, Eastwood High School officials say Sarunas has had an impressive impact on the school. He established a new Programming and Game Design Club, where he teaches students to code and design games.
The group has won state- and national-level competitions with more than 30 members, and is now working on an Eastwood-based mobile game, with overwhelming support from fellow students and teachers.
Sarunas is also the president of Speech & Debate; president of the Math Club; head coder in Robotics, where he wrote code to represent Eastwood in the VEX Robotics World Championships; and a member of Future Business Leaders of America, Science Bowl, High-Q, National Honor Society, and varsity Orchestra.
Outside of school, Sarunas plays violin in the El Paso Youth Symphony, regularly performing at the Plaza and Abraham Chavez Theatre. He is also the Cadet Commander of the El Paso Squadron in the Civil Air Patrol, where he organizes and oversees its activities, including large community service projects like Wreaths Across America, and has amassed more than 500 community service hours in his high-school career.
Last year, Sarunas was a NASA High School Aerospace Scholar, which allowed him to complete design challenges, technology writings. and monthly webinars with NASA scientists and engineers.
Because Sarunas was among the program’s highest-achievers, he was invited to NASA for a weeklong camp at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
National Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference
Three types of National Merit Scholarships are being offered this spring. Officials say 2,500 National Merit scholarships will be awarded on a state-representational basis; about 1,000 Merit Scholarships will be provided by corporations and business organizations; and about 180 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,100 Merit Scholarships for students who subsequently attend those institutions.
***For the record…
An earlier version of this story had Eastwood High School senior Sarunas Budreckis being awarded a National Merit Scholarship. District officials released that he is a finalist only at this point, not a scholarship awardee as they had previously announced. The 2020 National Merit Scholars are set to be announced later this year.
We apologize for the error.