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NBAHS senior Kobe Yang is National Merit Scholar finalist

Kobe Yang

North Branch Area High School (NBAHS) senior Kobe Yang, son of Debiao Yang and Yun Yan Shao, has been named a 2022 National Merit Scholar finalist. “It feels very gratifying to know that my studying has paid off in a way. It’s definitely something that I'm proud of,” said Yang, who plans to study electrical engineering after high school.

Yang, who has always felt a connection with math but has developed a passion for history as a result of his participation in Knowledge Bowl, said his finalist status hasn’t come without sacrifice. “It can get pretty busy, especially in the fall when I play soccer,” he said. “Add on college classwork and early morning practices for Knowledge Bowl and Jazz Band, and I don’t have as much free time as I’d like. Juggling academics and extracurriculars is still something I'm working on. I wouldn't say I'm excelling at it, but definitely trying!”

“One of Kobe’s best qualities is his humility and the team approach he takes to each activity he is involved in,'' said Supt. Sara Paul, adding, “He approaches excellence as a state of mind, not solely focusing on milestones to be reached. Kobe strives to be the best he can be, and in doing so he inspires others to do the same.” 

As he prepares for the next chapter of his education, Yang looks fondly at his time at NBAHS. “I've made so many good memories through the NBAHS Band and Knowledge Bowl programs, all of them stemming from the friends, coaches, and teachers I've met along the way,” he said. “I will always remember monkeying around at Knowledge Bowl meets with the boys and playing fun music on stage with the bands.”

High school counselor Roberta Backus, who has worked closely with Yang on his post-graduation plans, complimented Yang on his work ethic and potential. “Kobe has been a self-driven, motivated learner his whole life. He is one of the top students I've had the pleasure to work with in my entire career!  I am sure Kobe will go on to make a positive impact in this world in whatever life leads him,” she said.

According to the National Merit Scholar (NMS) program, roughly 1.5 million students enter the program each year. Of those, approximately 15,000 advance to finalist status. To participate in the NMS, students must take the PSAT/NMSQT in the specified year of the high school program and no later than the third year in grades 9 through 12, regardless of grade classification or educational pattern; be enrolled as a high school student, progressing normally toward graduation or completion of high school, and planning to accept admission to college no later than the fall following completion of high school; and attend high school in the United States, the District of Columbia, or U.S. commonwealth and territory; or meet the citizenship requirements for students attending high school outside the United States.

Yang is a 4.0 student at NBAHS and participates in the following activities:

  • Knowledge Bowl - Captain
  • North Branch Area High School Symphonic Band
  • Michigan Math and Science Scholars, University of Michigan summer program
  • North Branch Area High School Jazz Band
  • Soccer
  • National Honor Society - President

Yang has also been recognized for his excellence, including National Merit Finalist, Minnesota All-State Orchestra (one of five orchestral percussionists selected in Minnesota), All-Conference Knowledge Bowl, All-Conference Concert Band (percussionist), All-Conference Jazz Band (pianist), National Rural and Small Town Recognition Program Scholar, Minnesota Knowledge Bowl State Qualifier, and Anoka-Ramsey Community College Dean’s List (Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021).

Yang submitted college applications to both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the University of Michigan, and was informed recently that he is on the “waitlist” for both schools. Regarding MIT, over 36,000 students applied for admissions for fall 2022, of which only 1,100 are accepted. Yang joins roughly 680 students on the waitlist. Currently, Yang is accepted to UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, Purdue, The University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, and Case Western Reserve University and in the process of deciding which institution he will attend if he is not accepted to MIT or Michigan.