Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

To ignite and nurture creative, ethical, scientific minds that advance the human condition.

Seven IMSA Seniors Named National Achievement Semifinalists

Seven IMSA seniors have qualified as semifinalists in the 2015 National Achievement® Scholarship Program, an academic competition for African-American high school students.


Max Ackerman of Arlington Heights, Timothy O. Akintilo of Bourbonnais, Tahj Alli-Balogun of Frankfort, Yasmine Gordon of Oswego, Quinn Lewis of Glen Ellyn, Dayvon Snell of Matteson, and Kyle Thomas of Aurora are among approximately 1,600 semifinalists nationwide who are now eligible to compete for about 800 achievement scholarships. Each student has distinguished him/herself at IMSA in different ways, including teaching and tutoring in various IMSA programs, playing varsity golf and volleyball, earning a gold medal in the National Russian Essay Contest, and playing in the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra. In college they will be pursuing diverse fields such as medical bionics, cognitive science, design, and biomedical engineering.

“We are proud of our seven semifinalists, and happy to see their talent recognized and potentially rewarded with the National Achievement Scholarship,” said Dr. José M. Torres, IMSA President. “In addition to their passion for learning, these active members of our academic and social community help IMSA advance the human condition.”

The IMSA semifinalists are among more than 160,000 African-American students nationwide who took the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), the test used in the competition. Roughly 80% of semifinalists will attain finalist standing, where more than half will be awarded scholarships that total about $2.5 million dollars.

The annual National Achievement Scholarship Program is conducted by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, which gets support from corporations, professional associations, foundations and NMSC’s own funds. 

The internationally recognized Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy® (IMSA) develops creative, ethical leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  As a teaching and learning laboratory created by the State of Illinois, IMSA enrolls academically talented Illinois students (grades 10-12) in its advanced, residential college preparatory program, and it serves thousands of educators and students in Illinois and beyond through innovative instructional programs that foster imagination and inquiry. IMSA also advances education through research, groundbreaking ventures and strategic partnerships.