3 county students selected as semifinalists in Presidential Scholars Program

March 28, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

Three Howard County students are among the 2,600 semifinalists in this year's Presidential Scholars Program, billed as the highest federal honor bestowed upon high school graduating seniors.

Howard High School's Jenny Fox, Centennial High School's Jenny Jie Lee and Wilde Lake High School's Shirin Sinnar were picked as semifinalists from the roughly 2.5 million seniors expected to graduate from American high schools this year.

Their selection was based on their scores on the SAT and ACT, two tests used as college entrance exams. Their Scholastic Assessment Test scores ranged from a perfect 1,600 to a low of 1,490 Program officials did not say which student received which score.

Of the 45 Maryland students chosen as semifinalists, 22 of them are female and 23 are male.

The semifinalists now will submit applications, resumes, recommendations and essays to be considered for selection as one of 141 scholars nationwide.

Howard High's Jenny Fox, 17, tutors limited-English proficient students for the nonprofit Foreign-Born and Information Referral Network, a Columbia-based organization that helps immigrant families adapt to American life. She played field hockey for her school for four years and was French club vice president last year.

She is a Maryland Distinguished Scholar finalist, as well as a National Merit Scholarship finalist. She plans to study foreign languages or international affairs in college.

Centennial's Jenny Lee, 18, is opinion page editor for the school newspaper, Wingspan, and plays violin in the school orchestra. She participates in Centennial's humanities program, which integrates social studies and English curriculums, and she helped found the Philosophy Club.

She is interested in studying political science, most likely at Cornell University, because she is fascinated by the "theoretical aspects of what is the best government."

Miss Lee, whose family emigrated from China eight years ago, is particularly interested in the difference between China's communist system and the United States' democracy.

"I think I don't take for granted the U.S. Constitution and American law as others who grew up in America do," she says.

Wilde Lake's Shirin Sinnar is no stranger to awards. Last summer, the 16-year-old senior won a $10,000 college scholarship from the U.S. Institute of Peace for her winning essay on America's foreign policy role in the "New World Order."

More recently, she was one of six Howard County students to win recognition in a national writing contest sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English.

"I don't know why I like writing," she says. "I like manipulating words. I guess I'm a word person."

Shirin serves as editor of her school newspaper, Paw Print. She has been accepted at Harvard University and plans to study English or history.

She says she would like to become a journalist.

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars may pick as many as 141 scholars.

They can include one male and one female from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and from the category of families living abroad.

Up to 20 students will be chosen based on their achievements in creative and performing arts.

Scholars will be invited to Washington in late June to receive the Presidential Scholar medallion and to participate in various activities with their elected representatives and other public figures.

To be considered, students must submit teacher recommendations and essays that reveal their character, such as one about an experience that gave them a sense of pride or satisfaction.

Another essay requires them to write a dialogue between themselves and an important figure of their choice.

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