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Hodges Commended For Top PSAT Scores
Lydia Hodges pix
Riverbank High School senior Lydia Hodges has been recognized as a commended student by the National Merit Scholarship program. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

With a strong focus on her studies at Riverbank High School, senior Lydia Hodges has received recognition from the National Merit Scholarship Program where she was given commended honors. Hodges took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT) last year when she was a junior. Not all students qualify for that opportunity, but she did.

“Lydia is a great student,” stated Riverbank High School Principal, Dr. Sean Richey. “Honestly, I can’t say enough about her drive and tenacity. She pushes herself more than most other students I have seen.”

Hodges received a letter of commendation from the program for outstanding performance on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in 2015, scoring high enough to be considered for the program. She did not make the semifinals so she is not a finalist; however, out of the tens of thousands of students throughout the United States that she was competing against the index score she received gave her an Honorable Mention. For qualifying for the program Hodges was recognized as a commended student.

“Incidentally, if you do the math it shows that students receiving this notification are in the top 3 percent of students in the U.S.,” stated Jennifer Hodges, Lydia’s mother. “Lydia’s dad and I are very proud of her accomplishments. We are amazed with how God blessed her with such an incredibly smart mind. She is an amazing thinker and problem solver.”

Although Hodges has not yet received any actual scholarship money, she will be able to put this honor on her résumé and college applications.

“Colleges know what the program is and how hard it is to get into it,” said Hodges. “I am planning to go to a four year university. Right now my top two choices are probably Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts, although I am also looking at Cal Tech.”

With the desire to major in engineering, Hodges is trying to decide which type of engineering she would like to pursue, originally thinking it would be biomedical engineering.

“However, her scores opened up a world of opportunities for her in terms of colleges to apply to,” noted mom Jennifer. “She has letters of invitation to apply to all eight Ivy League schools, MIT, Cal Tech, Stanford, USC, Johns Hopkins, Rensselaer, Northwestern, you name it. It’s been very exciting to see all the letters come in the mail and by email.”

Throughout her life, Hodges has always been interested in puzzles and figuring out how things work by taking them apart and putting them back together. Although she said she does not play video games, she is interested in how the technology works.

“If my parents or my siblings need any help with the computer or the TV they come and ask me,” explained Hodges. “I have always liked problem solving and figuring out how things work and trying to make things better, that is what engineers do.”

Calculus is her favorite subject in high school which she expressed is “finally bringing together everything you learned in math that you never thought you would need and it is giving it purpose and applying it to real life. It can be complicated but it is useful.”

“She is willing to do whatever she needs to do to accomplish her goals,” added Richey. “She has actually been taking college courses in advanced mathematics in order to better prepare herself for her future career as an engineer.”

National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) was established in 1955 as an independent, not-for-profit organization that conducts the National Merit Scholarship Program, an annual academic competition for recognition and college undergraduate scholarships.

As stated on the website,, the NMSC’s goals are ‘to identify and honor academically talented U.S. high school students, to stimulate increased support for their education, and to provide efficient and effective program management’ for organizations who wish to sponsor college undergraduate scholarships. Through these endeavors, NMSC, which is committed to maintaining the highest standards, has earned a reputation for quality and integrity.

“I am proud of myself for getting it because you have to get in the top percentile to even be considered for the program,” expressed Hodges. “So I am really glad that I did qualify and maybe a little disappointed that I didn’t make it to be a semifinalist and finalist. But I know there are a lot of really smart high school kids out there so I don’t feel too bad about that.”

“Our hope for Lydia is that she finds a satisfying career in which she can use her God given gifts to bless the people God puts in her path,” stated Jennifer.

Richey said Hodges provides a good role model for her peers and underclassmen as well.

“I would tell other seniors that preparing for their future in high school matters and that as long as they are determined and possess a drive to succeed, they will find success,” Richey said.