It's people like this who just make me feel vastly inferior. Somehow I was a candidate for this medal. I think "candidate" is the level (or two) before "finalist." After all, they interviewed all this year's finalists, and I only recall talking to an actual human once regarding the University medal.
The thing is, I had no idea I was even being considered for the thing until they sent me a letter--me and, like, 36 other people. Compared to all these finalists, I didn't do SQUAT. I had about two extracurricular activities, not counting studying. I'm serious. And one of my activities was drawing snarky cartoons for the humor magazine. Not exactly something that makes you "most distinguished senior." Who knows--maybe 1997 was an off year for candidates.
Of course, being Berkeley, did I get a single dollar of scholarship money from them? Nooooo.