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Behind the scores

A closer look into the lives of National Merit Semifinalists

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Recently, around 16,000 students throughout the nation have qualified as National Merit Semifinalists. Among them, 11 from Hebron have made the cut by scoring 1470 or above.

 

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Anderson posing with his soap stall at the Farmers Market in Grapevine.

Bailey Anderson

Club/Out of school activities involved in: NHS, Science NHS, president of Gay Straight Alliance, historian of the Thespian society, Art, runs own soap and cosmetics company, piano lessons

What do you think has been your biggest challenge throughout your school life?

“My work effort hasn’t been the best up until when I was preparing for the PSAT. Before then, I kind of had slight ‘senioritis’ before I was even a senior so I definitely would want to improve how much effort I put into things.”

What do you think makes you feel unique compared to the other National Merit students?

“I was in choir, I play piano, and I run my own company. So I just have a bunch of things I learned how to do and have adapted to and I feel like I’m very multi-faceted.”

What plans do you have for the future?

“I want to either major in chemistry or biochemistry. I [also] want to create a corporation at one point that makes what I make now, keeping the hand made stuff and keeping it all natural, but at an affordable price and getting it out there.”

Colleges applying to: University of Oklahoma, Rice, UT-Dallas

 

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Aslam (on right) with friend during HOSA competition.

Amina Aslam

Club/Out of school activities involved in: NHS, StuCo, Key Club, HOSA, Hope, Make a Wish, Science NHS, volunteer at Autumn Leaves

What do you think has been your biggest challenge throughout your school life?

“I know a lot of people will take hard classes and then they’ll want to push off deadlines but I think I’ve gotten better with these last two years because there’s so much and procrastination isn’t an option anymore. Something I’ve [also] struggled with, like in my history classes, was what to write down and what not to. You know if there’s an open note quiz you would want to write everything down and not miss anything but writing everything down doesn’t always help you.”

What do you think makes you feel unique compared to the other National Merit students?

“Whenever I work, I just don’t work for the purpose of getting things done just because it is due. I always work because I think it will really help me with my career. Everything that I’m looking at, I connect it to my future. Like things we learn in government, people wonder why we have to learn this now but I like to apply it to how things are happening in the real world and try to predict how in the future I would go about that.”

What plans do you have for the future?

I’m not sure yet, but I either want to become a cardiologist or a medical researcher like an oncologist or something but I am definitely going to major in biochemistry.”

Colleges applying to: UT-Dallas, Rice, UT-Austin

 

claire-boschert

Boschert standing in front of the Perot Museum where she volunteers.

Claire Boschert

Club/Out of school activities involved in: Captain of AcDec team, HOSA, NHS, Science NHS, library assistant, second-degree black belt in Taekwondo, volunteer at Perot Museum

What do you think has been your biggest challenge throughout your school life?

“I think it’s been hard learning to balance everything. This year I’ve been struggling to balance all of my classes and homework but also giving myself time off to just have a break and have time to spend time with my friends as well.”

What do you think makes you feel unique compared to the other National Merit students?

“I think that I’m unique because I value learning for the sake of learning. I don’t do well in my classes because I want a good grade, I do good in my classes because I enjoy learning. I go home and I study because that’s better than doing nothing; it gives me something to do that is productive and I feel is like a good use of my time. I’m also really talented, I have a good memory and I’m good at understanding things and doing math and not necessarily everyone is gifted [like] that.”

What plans do you have for the future?

“I really love biology and I want to probably major in [it]. I’m really interested in genetics as well as evolution. I’m not sure what I’ll go into grad school for, but I want to go into research. Two fields I imagine myself in, is either being a college professor or working in a science museum because I think those both are a really nice balance of doing research and learning information but also teaching and sharing that knowledge.”

Colleges applying to:  UT-Austin, Rice, Northwestern, University of Chicago, Washington University in St. Louis, John Hopkins, Stanford, Harvard, MIT, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, Princeton

 

Danielle Choi

Choi at a warehouse on Skid Row in California. There, with her church, she helped pass out food to the homeless and underprivileged.

Danielle Choi

Club/Out of school activities involved in: NHS, Key Club, Science NHS, Rays of Sunshine, G/T, heavily involved in church; plays bass guitar in the youth praise team

What are some challenges that you are currently working with?

“Currently it’s trying to find the major in the college I want to go to because right now I’m undecided.”

What do you think makes you feel unique compared to the other National Merit students?

“I guess it’s that I feel a lot of self-confidence in who I am and my identity is not something that is set, like, I can be described by ‘these words.’ It’s a little bit of everything and because I’m my own person, I can’t be put into different categories so that’s what makes me feel unique.”

What plans do you have for the future?

“Probably [something in] STEM.”

Colleges applying to: Stanford, University of Oklahoma, Rice, Baylor, UT-Dallas,Texas A&M

 

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Fitzgerald (on right), Science NHS president, with science teacher Gale Hunt.

Brendan Fitzgerald

Club/Out of school activities involved in: President of Science NHS, NHS, Chess, Tennis

What are some challenges that you are currently working with?

“I guess it’s just the amount of work that comes with AP classes.”

What do you think makes you feel unique compared to the other National Merit students?

I spent seven weeks last summer doing research at a genetics lab at UT Southwestern. I was the only person in the lab who didn’t have an M.D. or a Ph.D. I was also one of the [Homecoming] nominees. And I just really love science.”

What plans do you have for the future?

“I want to go to med school. I’m not sure yet but I might get into research but i don’t know about what specialty I want to go into.”

Colleges applying to: UT-Austin, Cal-Tech, Duke, John Hopkins, Harvard, Princeton, Yale

 

Brandon Hardy

Hardy (fourth from top right) holding the homecoming sign with his wrestling team.

Brandon Hardy

Club/Out of school activities involved in: NHS, Science NHS, Interact Club, Wrestling, plays some guitar

What are some challenges that you are currently working with?

“Probably just managing everything. School is pretty time consuming and then you lose sight in the stuff you want to do outside of school like SAT, college apps and stuff like that.”

What do you think makes you feel unique compared to the other National Merit students?

We are all pretty similar that we all study hard and focus on our grades. I think maybe I was the only one that did a sport but that’s the only thing that I can think of.”

What plans do you have for the future?

“I’d like to go to UT to study probably biomedical engineering. Both of my parents worked in the medical field so just seeing that influenced me.”

Colleges applying to: UT-Austin, UT-Dallas, Rice

 

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Hauck (on right) with other Latin Club members.

Emma Hauck

Club/Out of school activities involved in: Latin Club, NHS

What are some challenges that you are currently working with?

“Knowing when I don’t get something and I need to ask for help. I’m very bad about that and I’ll think that ‘maybe it will just work itself out.’ I really just don’t like having to approach teachers or other students because I’m just afraid of looking stupid.”

What do you think makes you feel unique compared to the other National Merit students?

I’m a bit more on the English and liberal art side of things. I’m thinking [about] studying classics which is basically Latin and Greek and languages. In that respect I am [unique] since most of [the finalists] are interested in STEM.”

What plans do you have for the future?

“I would like to double major in English and classics. I kind of like the idea of becoming an author at some point. I don’t feel super confident in my writing abilities, but it’s a thing I’m kind of interested in.”

Colleges applying to: UT-Austin, Georgetown, Haverford, Texas A&M

 

Jun-Jang

Jang participating in a chemistry experiment.

Jun Jang

Club/Out of school activities involved in: Latin Club, HOSA

What are some challenges that you are currently working with?

“In terms of standardized testing, unfortunately it’s not very similar to the curriculum sometimes. You really have to find your time out of class to study on your own, but when you take a lot of AP classes, which a lot of students do, it’s really challenging to find that time to practice. Otherwise you are not going to get the scores you want.”

What do you think makes you feel unique compared to the other National Merit students?

I came [to America] when I was six, so I didn’t really speak English and I didn’t really understand the language or the culture so it was kind of like I was starting new. I think it’s just interesting that I could start from not even knowing the letters of the alphabet to mastering a language and earning scores high enough for National Merit. But I don’t think that makes me better or anything, I’m just saying that I find it interesting [to see] my improvement over the years.”

What plans do you have for the future?

“I’m not really decided yet but some areas I would be interested in would be medicine or computer science.”

Colleges applying to: UT-Austin, Natural Science Honor Programs

 

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Lulay working on some his equipment he bought for his music studio.

Mihir Lulay

Club/Out of school activities involved in: NHS, Science NHS, HOSA, Encore theatre

What are some challenges that you are currently working with?

“We just started rehearsals for our fall show so we have rehearsal until six pretty much everyday until Nov. 3. So that’s going to be really hard especially since I’m taking AP chem and AP gov. It’s just a matter of not procrastinating and figuring out, even during rehearsals, if it is not your scene then start working on something and getting it done.”

What do you think makes you feel unique compared to the other National Merit students?  

I’m in theater and I’m also a music producer on the side. I have a studio set up in my bedroom so me and my friends get together and produce together. So I feel like I have a lot more than just academics.”

What plans do you have for the future?

“I’m majoring probably in Biochemistry or Biomedical Engineering but i want to either do a double major in music or minor in music production.”

Colleges applying to: UT-Dallas, UT-Austin, University of Houston

 

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Nguyen posing with some of his fossils.

John Joseph Nguyen

Club/Out of school activities involved in: NHS, Science NHS, Boy Scouts, Dallas Paleontology Society

What are some challenges that you are currently working with?

“Just knowing when enough is enough and not taking on too much.”

What do you think makes you feel unique compared to the other National Merit students?

Most of the National Merit students are focused on academics, I try to put myself out into art and and volunteer work.”

What plans do you have for the future?

“I’m looking for a career in paleontology because I’ve just been interested in fossils and dinosaurs for as long as I can remember.”

Colleges applying to: Texas A&M, University of Oklahoma, Baylor, possibly Stanford and Berkeley

 

Emily Tran

Tran participating in drum line.

Emily Tran

Club/Out of school activities involved in: Band drumline, TSA, NHS, Science NHS, Hope, Latin Club

What are some challenges that you are currently working with?

“Time-management; I’m not that great at time management at all. Even though the PSAT is all about getting things done in time and being really quick, I have a lot of trouble managing my time and setting priorities because I want to do so many things.”

What do you think makes you feel unique compared to the other National Merit students?

“I think it’s just how many extra-curriculars I do. I know a lot of people think that I focus so much on school and I think that’s boring. Although I really think school is important but getting good grades doesn’t excite me nearly as much as expressing myself creatively in band and music performances as well as art, architecture and engineering through TSA.”

What plans do you have for the future?

“I’m thinking about doing architecture because I really like architectural design. Even though National Merit is only about academics, I’m really about all the creativity and designing my own things.”

Colleges applying to: UT-Austin, University of Houston, Oklahoma State University, University of Oklahoma, Texas A&M

 

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