Bethlehem High School senior Dana Niu has a long list of academic achievements.
She’s managed to maintain a GPA of 98 even while she takes senior courses such as Calculus 3, Linear Algebra, AP Physics, AP Statistics, AP English and AP Economics. She scored a perfect five on all of her Advanced Placement examinations. She has also received a perfect score on every SAT test she has taken 1600 on the SAT I and 800s on each of three SAT II subject tests (chemistry, math level II and world history) and she aced six state Regents exams.
Her latest accolade is a nomination for the 2009 Presidential Scholars Program, one of the top honors for a high school senior in the United States. Up to 141 students from across the country are typically chosen out of a few thousand nominees for the program.
Despite all of her successes, Niu remains down to earth, her school counselor, Scott Carlton, said.
`While her test scores and achievements are otherworldly, Dana’s most endearing characteristic is her humble, friendly and unassuming demeanor,` Carlton said. `She simply doesn’t get too excited about her accomplishments.`
In fact, Niu did not even tell her friends about the SAT feat.
`In the end, they’re just test scores,` she said.
She attributes her success to the support of her parents and her own time management skills.
`There were some late nights,` Niu said. `I have been busy.`
It’s not just schoolwork that keeps Niu occupied. She is an accomplished cellist who has spent hundreds of hours practicing and performing in the school’s string quartet, symphony orchestra and in the Empire State Youth Orchestra.
Niu is also the president of the BC Environmental Club, a member of the varsity tennis team, president of Key Club and a member of the pit orchestra for this year’s musical.
Carlton said that a packed schedule makes Niu’s accomplishments all the more impressive.
The Presidential Scholars Program was initiated in 1964 by the executive order of President Lyndon B. Johnson as a means to not only recognize the nation’s most distinguished scholars, but also to provide an experience that helps shape the country’s future leaders. The scholars travel to Washington, D.C., in June as guests of the program for a week of seminars, lectures and workshops with people from the fields of government, education, science and the arts.
The week culminates in a White House-sponsored event where the scholars are awarded the Presidential Medallion.
The detailed application for the presidential scholars program included six essay questions on a variety of topics.
As Niu awaits word on the outcome, she is also waiting to hear about some other applications she’s recently filed. Her sights are set on some of the finest colleges in the country.
While she won’t know for several weeks where she will be next fall, Niu has thought about what she might study when she gets there. A daughter of Chinese natives, she is interested in possibly studying environmental sciences or international relations. She is also considering math and physics.
She expects to continue music lessons in college and would like to play an intramural sport such badminton or tennis.