Eighteen Canyons District students have advanced in a rigorous race to claim one of the country’s most prestigious scholarships for high school seniors. 

Students from Alta, Brighton, Corner Canyon and Hillcrest high schools today were announced as semifinalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholar competition.  

The high-achieving CSD students join about 16,000 other top scholars who remain eligible to vie for 7,500 scholarships worth $31 million.

The roster of semifinalists was chosen from a field of 1.6 million students at more than 22,000 high schools. The nationwide pool of semifinalists represents fewer than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors. The number is proportional to the state's percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

Candidates for National Merit Scholar awards must write an essay and take a prequalifying test, as well as submit SAT scores. Also required is a detailed scholarship application in which the students must provide academic-record and community-involvement information. The students must note their leadership experiences, voluntarism, employment and any other honors received, too.

The finalists and winners of 2019 scholarships will be announced in the spring

The students and their schools are: 

Alta High
  • Abigail Hardy 
  • Joshua Mickelson 
  • Joshua Pomeroy
Brighton High
  • Alex Fankhauser 
  • Sofia Maw 
  • Jenna Rupper
Corner Canyon
  • Sebastian Lee 
  • Peter Oldham
Hillcrest High
  • Alex Chang 
  • Anthony Grimshaw 
  • Bryan Guo 
  • Saey Kamtekar 
  • Emily Langie 
  • Hongying Liu 
  • Warren McCarthy 
  • Landon Nipko 
  • Eric Yu 
  • Alan Zhao
Asked to reflect on the whirlwind of events in recent years — the pomp of graduation from a top-tier university; scrappy early days as an entrepreneur; and launch of a billion-dollars-a-day-in-transactions trading firm — Christina Qi pauses and exhales before showing a rare moment of incredulity. 

“I still can’t believe it,” says Qi, a Hillcrest High graduate who is a rising star in the fast-changing, tech-heavy, algorithm-reliant world of high-frequency trading. “It’s all kind of surreal.” 

Qi, who left the Midvale-area school to pursue a degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has spent her life wisely since arriving in New England. After earning a degree at MIT in 2013, she and two friends hit the pavement, looking for forward-thinking investors who believed in their plan to revolutionize how trading firms do business.  

Contrary to business-world tradition, Qi’s company, named Domeyard, embraces a relatively flat organizational structure. While there are employees who serve in roles traditionally reserved for a Chief Executive Officer or Chief Technology Officer, everyone in the firm has the title “partner” she said.  Also, the company develops its own technologies, is selective about clients, and builds trading strategies that blend the best thinking of new and established firms, she said.

Not only has Domeyard gained a prominent foothold in a notoriously difficult field, Qi and her two partners, Luca Lin and Jonathan Wang, have received accolades for their wise-beyond-their-years instincts and commitment to hard work. Most notable: Earlier this year, the trio was named to Forbes’ prestigious “30 under 30” list of movers and shakers in the world of finance.   

The magazine says the 2017 list is an “encyclopedia of creative disruption” in 20 different industries. The hot, up-and-coming talent in such fields as art and style, Hollywood and entertainment, media, energy, sports and science are nominated, vetted and selected by the publication’s “ace reporters and a panel of A-list judges.”

Qi admits to being a little star-struck at a Forbes-list summit in October. “I was like, ‘I can’t believe I am here with Joe Jonas,’” she said about the 30-under-30 honoree meet-up, which draws current and former list-makers. This year’s list includes Jonas, actress Zoe Kravitz, DJ-producer Marshmello, Tony winner Ben Platt, and Facebook Operations Vice President Jay Hammonds. 

“That was definitely really cool.  It was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, you’re really real,’” she said about hob-nobbing with Hollywood hoi polloi. And it also marked quite a journey from the hallways at Hillcrest, Midvale Middle and Peruvian Park Elementary schools. 

With a bit of a shy chuckle, Qi, 26, who interned at Goldman Sachs, confesses to being more than a little skeptical when a Forbes reporter first contacted the company about being featured in the publication. The former student in Hillcrest’s vaunted International Baccalaureate program also reeled from the attention when the profile on Domeyard was featured on Forbes’ homepage. “My phone just started blowing up,” she says.

The magazine tells the story of Domeyard’s early days as a dorm-room enterprise, Qi’s role as the partner responsible for raising investment funds, and the late nights spent babysitting the algorithms that Qi, Lin and Wang were using to make trades in the European market.  Forbes also reveals that the name Domeyard comes from landmarks at MIT and Harvard. 

“It took nearly three years for Domeyard to get up and running,” states the Forbes story.  “Qi was effective at raising money, but the young traders needed to build up the technology and infrastructure required for data-driven trading—securing servers in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s data center, writing a few million lines of code, and setting up the capability to support several petabytes of data.” 

But Forbes also notes Domeyard’s “brash and optimistic” nimble nature, based on youth, small size and drive for innovation.

“The Domeyard crew is operating in a field dominated by big firms with years of operating history that have spent fortunes on infrastructure and armies of mathematicians and engineers. In addition, this low-volatility stock market era has cut deeply into some of the richest strategies of high frequency traders, causing a wave of consolidation in the industry,” the story reads. “But Domeyard’s young founders think that there are some advantages to being the new kids on the high-frequency block. The firm is working to unlock profitable trading strategies by using sequential machine learning and making large scale computations of statistics.”

Qi says many of the lessons learned at Hillcrest High stay with her today.  She also fondly recalls the teachers who inspired her, programs that gave her a solid academic foundation, and the spirit of the students who were proud to be Huskies.

In particular, she praises now-retired biology teacher Phil Talbot. In fact, in 2010, Qi successfully nominated Talbot for a prestigious MIT Alumni Association Inspirational Teacher Award. He was one of 37 teachers nationwide to be presented with the honor from the institution. “The way he connected with students … there were students in our class who became doctors because of the way he taught his class, she said.  “Once, when I was home, I ran into him (at a local restaurant), and I just broke down.  It was so good to see him before he retired.”

“Overall, I loved the spirit of Hillcrest. It was better than anything I have ever experienced, even at MIT,” she says, noting that Hillcrest High, not known for having a student body with excess personal funds, is generous to those in the community with even less. “A lot of the students don’t come from wealthy backgrounds, but they still give back … It’s a lesson for all of us.”
Canyons District mourns the death of Cazzie Brown, the head football coach at Hillcrest High.  The school community and its supporters have been encouraged to wear green today in a show of solidary and support for Coach Brown’s loved ones. 

The school issued the following message to parents and students early this morning: 

The administration, faculty and staff of Hillcrest High want to express our appreciation for the support you have shown our school community and Coach Cazzie Brown who passed away late Sunday, Aug. 27 from complications of a viral infection. A native of Houston, Texas, and former football player for Idaho State University, Coach Brown came to Hillcrest in 2016 by way of Judge Memorial and Highland High where he served as defensive coordinator and defensive assistant, respectively. In a short amount of time, with his deep love for students and his motto ‘One Pack, One Goal,’ he brought new energy and positivity to Hillcrest and its football program. Beloved by his students, he was a caring, passionate educator, a respected colleague and a dear friend. Caz will forever be remembered as the Coach who brought pride back to Husky Land, and he will be greatly missed. Counselors will be on hand today and throughout the week to support anyone who is struggling to process difficult emotions.” 

A candlelight vigil will be held on the football field at 9 p.m. tonight.
A whopping 22 stellar students from Canyons District’s five traditional comprehensive high schools find out tonight if they have been selected as 2017 Sterling Scholars in their respective categories.  Winners in the 55th annual scholarship program sponsored by the Deseret News and KSL-TV Channel 5 will be announced during a ceremony at the LDS Conference Center’s Little Theater, 60 West North Temple.  Students from Alta, Brighton, Corner Canyon, Hillcrest and Jordan high schools are in the finals in all but one of the judged categories.  Last year, Canyons students walked away with several awards.   Anthony Cheng, from Hillcrest High, was announced as the top mathematician — and the overall general scholar. Sadie Chidester and Camden Seeborg, both from Corner Canyon, won in the Skilled and Technical Sciences and World Languages categories, respectively.  Here’s a list of Canyons District’s 2017 finalists:

Business and Marketing
Elizabeth Ericksen, Corner Canyon

Computer Technology
Abigail Olsen, Hillcrest
Ryan Dalby, Brighton
Ellek Linton, Corner Canyon

Dance
Caroline Tarbet, Hillcrest
Ashley Jex, Alta
Audrey Memmott, Corner Canyon


English
Nain Christopherson, Jordan
Alexandra Carlile, Hillcrest

Family and Consumer Sciences Education
Carlee Culberson, Jordan

Mathematics
Ben Hiatt, Corner Canyon

Science
Boyd Christiansen, Jordan
Michelle White, Hillcrest

Skilled & Technical Sciences Education
Mary Evans, Hillcrest
Mykell Johnson, Alta

Social Sciences
Eliza Bennett, Jordan

Speech, Theatre Arts, Forensics
Emma Smith, Alta

Visual Arts
Dexter Holmes, Jordan
Meg Warnock, Corner Canyon

Vocal Performance
Kristen Fairbourn, Alta

World Languages
Cade Kartchner, Hillcrest
Julianne Liu, Brighton
Eleven students from four of Canyons District's traditional comprehensive high schools have been named semi-finalists in the 2017 National Merit Scholarship program.

They join about 16,000 others who this week advanced in the prestigious competition to vie for 7,500 scholarships worth $33 million.

Finalists are chosen from 1.6 million students at more than 22,000 high schools. The nationwide pool of semifinalists represent less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors. The number is proportional to the state's percentage of the national total of graduating seniors. The students and their schools are:  

CORNER CANYON
Eric Jackson

BRIGHTON
Emily A. Hyde

JORDAN
Boyd H Christiansen
Brian C. Johnson
Peter C. Maughan

HILLCREST
Alexandra Carlile
Soyoung Jeon
Joshua Katzenbach
Derek C. Miles
Abigail A. Olson
Chandler Wakefield
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