Vivyan Nieberding is continuing Nacogdoches High School’s run of National Merit success.

The NHS senior is one of 15,000 National Merit finalists named earlier this month. It’s the second straight year the school has seen one of its seniors advance this far. In 2022, Nyssa Galatas was a National Merit Scholar winner.

“Vivyan is a wonderful student and incredibly talented,” said NHS principal Stephen Autrey. “She’s going to do great things after leaving Nacogdoches.

“And her success is indicative of the type of students we have attending Nacogdoches High School. While it may seem remarkable to have back-to-back National Merit finalists, it’s not the least surprising to me.”

Vivyan won’t find that out until May when 7,250 National Merit Scholarship winners are announced.

What’s certain is that Vivyan graduates in May and will attend college. She is currently ranked No. 1 in the Class of 2023.

Where Vivyan ends up next fall is to be determined, she said. Acceptance letters have already been received from the University of Texas and University of Michigan. But determinations from several private schools, including Harvard University, are pending.

Politics is in her future, she said. Vivyan hopes to either be running for office herself or managing campaigns – “I want to make the world better,” she said. And UT Austin offers access to internships inside the State Capitol located a few blocks away from The Forty Acres. Michigan provides one of the best political science schools in the nation, she said.

But Harvard remains her No. 1 target. “That’s where I’m hoping to go.”

Vivyan swims with the Nacogdoches High School team and is part of the Ambush Swimming Club here. She’s participated in cross examination debate for four years, and is part of the Lincoln-Douglas debate team this year. 

“I really love debate,” Vivyan said, as well as Kristin Thomas’ English classes. “Her class is less structured, and you can write on topics that you choose,” Vivyan said.

Vivyan is an Ohio native and has lived 10 years in Nacogdoches. And 10 years from now? She hopes to be running for office or managing a campaign. “That’s the goal,” she said.

The National Merit program begins with roughly 1.5 million entrants and was pared down to 16,000 students in September before being trimmed to the 15,000 Finalists announced earlier this month. The 7,250 Merit Scholarship winners will be named in May.