Rare air

National Merit Scholar Andrew Hollingsworth unintentionally relaunches high-achieving student program at UND

Andrew Hollingsworth

Andrew Hollingsworth, Fargo, is one of 11 UND National Merit Scholarship recipients on campus this year, which is a new high for the University. Photo by Tyler Ingham.

Andrew Hollingsworth loves to be in the air.

“There’s no feeling in the world like rotating the control wheel, taking off, and soaring with the wind beneath your wings,” he said. “It’s what I want to do.”

Thanks to a relaunched program, Hollingsworth is able to pursue his dream of being a pilot.

The National Merit Scholarship, which provides high-achieving students a tuition and fee waiver, is back in place after being inactive for several years.

Hollingsworth didn’t plan it, but he was instrumental in re-establishing the program.

“I was looking at my college options during senior year,” said the Fargo native, a sophomore who is majoring in commercial aviation and flight education. “NDSU offered me a full ride with a National Merit Scholarship.”

He had been interested in UND since a fifth-grade field trip to campus, and met with a UND admissions representative to see what the University could offer to students like him. After he mentioned that he had been offered the National Merit Scholarship by NDSU, the admissions representative felt Hollingsworth just might be the case model for reinstating the scholarship.

Interim UND President Ed Schafer approved the request, and Hollingsworth was the lone recipient last year.

This year, 11 students received the scholarship, the most ever at UND and up from a previous high of two.

Andrew Hollingsworth

Hollingsworth said he debated about majoring in engineering or aerospace, and the scholarship allowed him to take a semester of each major, which helped him choose his final major. Photo by Tyler Ingham.

Best and brightest

“This new scholarship is crucial in helping attract National Merit Scholars to campus,” said Jenn Aamodt. “These students are the best and brightest and are real leaders in the classroom and beyond. They raise the bar for all students in research, problem solving, creativity and innovation.”

National Merit Finalists and Semi-Finalists from North Dakota and Minnesota are eligible to receive the scholarship, which covers full tuition and fees. It’s renewable for up to three years, and can be awarded in addition to other scholarships and tuition waivers.

“I probably couldn’t swing both tuition and flight school,” said Hollingsworth. “UND’s package was really great.” He also received a freshman flight school scholarship, which allowed him to earn his pilot’s license.

Hollingsworth said he debated about majoring in engineering or aerospace, and the scholarship allowed him to take a semester of each major, which helped him choose his final major.

“I knew flight was what I wanted to do,” he said. “I’ve had a really good experience, and I love the professors. Being a pilot is my dream job.” He added that he is debating between becoming a commercial pilot and teaching, and may even look at specialized flying.

“I’d like to get out and see the world, flying to remote locations,” he said.

Hollingsworth, a former UND swimmer, also works at the UND pool as a swim instructor and lifeguard, teaching three year-olds to advanced levels.

“I have four younger brothers and love being around kids,” he said. “It’s fun.

“I love it here, and am really glad I came to UND,” Hollingsworth said. “Aerospace is a great program. This is home for me. It’s awesome, and it feels right.”