High school seniors to rub elbows with America's most accomplished VTC

March 29, 1992|By Ann LoLordo | Ann LoLordo,Staff Writer

He has researched the phenomenon of "sleep paralysis" and compared the stress levels of nurses who work in trauma centers and neonatal intensive care units. And although he has written poetry, he prefers the essay, a form in which he can argue the facts with logic.

She is analyzing Milton's "Samson Agonistes" and preparing for a summer chamber music concert in Austria. And when she describes why she writes fiction, she explains, by way of Descartes: If reading is "a conversation with the great minds," then it's only "polite to respond."

But don't get the wrong idea here. For all their ability and achievement, Adrien Janvier of Kenwood High School and Nina Kuruvilla of Pikesville High School are still a couple of 17-year-old kids with 17-year-old interests: He loves to talk on the telephone and visit the mall, and she plays field hockey and goes to Orioles games intent on catching a fly ball.

The students, both high school seniors, didn't know one another. But they possess the same kind of pizzazz and sparkle, smarts and good will, dedication to and love of learning to be chosen as the Baltimore area's "Young Leaders of Tomorrow" for the American Academy of Achievement's annual "Salute to Excellence" program.

As delegates to the program, Adrien and Nina will join about 450 of the nation's outstanding honor students at a three-day symposium during which they will meet with some of America's most accomplished citizens, from Academy Award winners to Nobel Prize recipients.

"I imagine it will be a humbling experience," Adrien said yesterday of the weekend he will spend in Las Vegas.

"I will make it instigate my mind," said Nina, an avid reader who counts Emily Dickinson, John Milton and Henry Miller among her favorite authors.

Adrien and Nina are being sponsored for the program by the Hahn Co., a San Diego-based shopping center developer that manages the Towson Town Center, said Christopher S. Schardt, the general manager of the Towson shopping mall. The company founder, Ernest Hahn, sponsors about 100 youngsters for the achievement award, students who live in or around the 50 shopping centers owned and operated by the Hahn Co. across the country.

The teen-agers, children of immigrants, were among eight county high school students who were nominated for the honor by their principals, Mr. Schardt said. The winners had to have a better than 3.5 grade point average and a combined SAT score of at least 1,200.

"She was the Renaissance woman . . ." Mr. Schardt said of Nina.

The oldest daughter of a surgeon, Nina plays the viola, supports human rights causes and admits to an "obsession" with the sport of crew (which she plans on learning once she finishes her research paper on Milton's tragic poem).

She doesn't yet know what profession she will pursue, but something in research, perhaps in "political philosophy, anthropology, psychobiology, neurochemistry," she said.

"She takes a little bit of every aspect of life and uses it," said Mr. Schardt, of Towson Town Center. "You sat there listening to her and your mouth started opening: the knowledge and the insight and the interest in all aspects of life."

And what about Adrien, one of nine children whose father came here from Haiti?

"What made us choose him was his determination," said Mr. Schardt, who joined the president of the Baltimore County Parent-Teachers Association and a Towson State University administrator in selecting the winners.

"He achieved goals that his family never envisioned he would. . . . He was not driven by his family to succeed, but by himself."

As an asthmatic child growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., Adrien spent most of his time indoors, where he would watch television and thumb through the encyclopedias.

"The thrill of trying to learn what was in them motivated me," he said.

Adrien developed an interest in math and science -- particularly biology -- while listening to his parents discuss the illnesses common to any household. His father is a registered nurse; his mother a licensed practical nurse.

He came to Baltimore County to live with his father and stepmother, also a registered nurse, when it was time to attend high school.

For the past two summers, he has worked in a science-oriented research program at the University of Maryland at Baltimore.

"I like math and science because there's a certain element of precision and exactness that appeals to me," said Adrien, who hopes to become a doctor.

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