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Carlsbad High School senior named semifinalist for National Merit Scholarship

Carlsbad High School senior named semifinalist for National Merit Scholarship


A Carlsbad High School senior was named a semifinalist in the 67th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Eighteen-year-old Riley Antiporda is one of the 16,000 semifinalists from across the country competing for nearly $30 million in scholarships that will be awarded in Spring 2022.

Riley said he didn't know much about the award but applied because a friend on his told him he should.

"Only after I applied did I realize how significant it was," Riley said.

Riley planned to attend New Mexico State University after graduation to study engineering. He said he still isn't sure where the degree will take him but hopes to work for General Dynamics or SpaceX someday.

Riley's parents are Deena and Mike Antiporda. The couple organized a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) youth group that teaches kids about the subject while having fun.

"We all have a pretty big interest in it. It's really is kind of funny that we all have that common ground like that," Deena said. "I’m just so excited and so happy for him. He’s worked very hard to get to this point so we’re just so proud of him."

Carlsbad High School Principal Jesse Fuentes said just becoming a finalist for the scholarship can open doors for students.

“(Universities) want those kids in their schools,” Fuentes said. “Typically, when these kids are even just finalists, they're given really good scholarships."

National Merit Scholarship finalists can also compete for about 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards and 4,000 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards, according to a news release from the program.

Before qualifying as a semifinalist, Riley had to take the SAT and be among the highest scorers in the state. Only 91 seniors from New Mexico qualified, Fuentes said.



To qualify for the finals, Riley said took another test and wrote an essay about someone that inspired him — he chose his brother Logan.

Riley said his brother — who is now an engineering student at NMSU — motivated him and sparked his interest in engineering.

“He was three years ahead of me in school and he would learn math and science years ahead of me and he would teach it to me,” Riley said. 

Deena said Riley is continuing to follow in his brother's footsteps and plans to move to Las Cruces for college. She described the feeling as bittersweet.

"Oh, I'm gonna miss him terribly. He just has this energy and he always makes me laugh..." Deena said. "It's tough when they move out to go to college, but I know he'll be back."