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Claire Kaneshiro of Indianapolis

Claire Kaneshiro of  Indianapolis is ISI's second-consecutive
National Merit ​​​Finalist.

At ISI, distinct academics means distinct results. That certainly is the case for student Claire Kaneshiro, who recently was named a 2021 National Merit Finalist, the second-consecutive year an ISI student has been chosen for the prestigious honor.

“I completed the application like five months earlier, so I had completely forgotten about it,” Claire said, recalling when she received the finalist notice in the mail. “It took me a couple reads through to process that I was a finalist. Then I was like, ‘Oh, wow, this is pretty cool!’"

Cool, indeed, and now ISI has back-to-back National Merit Finalists. Last year, former student Rose Schnabel of Zionsville was earned the same distinction. She currently attends Indiana University in Bloomington through the Wells Scholars Program, one of the most competitive full-ride awards offered in the country. Since 2010, ISI has produced 10 National Merit Finalists, including a school record three finalists in 2012.

Enrolled at ISI since she was a 3-year-old, Claire has excelled throughout the entire International Baccalaureate (IB) continuum at the institution. Her academic career has been exemplary, too: a 4.66 GPA, a near-perfect SAT score, and fluency in Chinese, Spanish and English. And she will graduate with both an IB and Bilingual Diploma.

That academic performance has turned heads in state education circles, too: This month, she was named an Indiana Academic All-Star, the annual recognition of the state’s best and brightest students organized by the Indiana Association of School Principals. Based on school nominations, the organization selected 90 regional nominees, then narrowed the list to 40 statewide All-Stars -- including Claire.

“We have so many talented students come through ISI, but Claire really has pushed the bar to a new level,” said ISI Director of College Counseling Linda Christy, who wrote Claire’s recommendations. “Her teachers constantly talk about how she raises the quality of classes with her innovative thinking, eagerness for discussions, and her intellectual confrontation of ideas. She’s been a remarkable student on so many fronts, and that’s coming from teachers who have taught in international schools for 20 years.”


In addition to her academic achievements, Claire has made her mark outside the classroom, too, with her passions in mathematics, social and political activism, and organic gardening and urban farming. She was a school record-setting member of the swim (above, far right) and cross-country teams; worked phone banks and distributed campaign literature for Central Indiana candidates during the 2020 elections; been an integral part of the Math Club; and she has been a familiar face in ISI promotional campaigns in support of the institution.

Claire hasn’t declared her final college destination yet, but her leading contender is IU, where she, too, has been offered a Wells Scholarship. She also has been accepted at Haverford College outside Philadelphia and Reed College in Portland, Ore. Wherever her final destination, Claire plans to major in either mathematics or economics and minor in Chinese or linguistics, then possibly pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics or a social science.

Granted, Claire put in the work, but she credits her ISI teachers for her academic success, particularly her math instructors, because the NMS nomination process is heavily based on standardized testing results.

“I’ve never really known any other school but ISI, so it’s impossible to say ISI’s IB approach to education didn’t have a role in my success,” Claire said.

Claire, one of 15,000 finalists nationwide, is now eligible for one of 7,500 one-time scholarships awarded by the National Merit Scholarship Program. Those awards are expected to be announced in mid-May.


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