OSSINING, N.Y. -- An Ossining High School senior has qualified as a semifinalist for the National Merit Scholarship Program.
Adriana Scanteianu is a swimmer, Fundamentals of Science Research program student, musician and an admitted "math nerd."
The 17-year-old is one of about 16,000 students nationwide to nab a spot as a semifinalist in the 62nd annual scholarship competition because of high scores on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test. Those who advance to finalist status in February will vie for about 7,400 Merit Scholarship awards worth about $33 million.
Some 1.6 million juniors from across the country took the 2015 PSAT. About one percent of high school seniors became semifinalists.
School counselor Marybeth Griffin described Scanteianu as academically gifted, hard-working, humble, helpful and multi-talented.
“Adriana sticks out even among the brightest of the bright,” she said. "Everybody who has ever encountered her, whether it’s a student, teacher or administrator, is impressed with her heart as well as her brain.”
Scanteianu has been a competitive swimmer for about 12 years and is co-captain of the Ossining girls' varsity swim team. Scanteianu also ran spring track from her freshman year through 11th grade.
She is president of the school’s math club and has been a member of the engineering club, as well as being involved in other groups. She also plays the piano and clarinet.
Her project for the Fundamentals of Science Research program was in bioinformatics. She is studying large biological datasets and has found a way to predict protein concentrations. She performs her research at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
“Basically, because of our research, we’re able to predict how much of specific proteins a cell will make and that’s really important because you can guess what a cell will do if you know how much of each protein it makes,” she said.
Scanteianu said she likes the teachers she has had in Ossining because “they love to throw problems at you in math and physics class,” and let students figure them out on their own or by working in small groups.
“It sort of fostered this excitement about math and science that I don’t see anywhere else,” she said.
Scanteianu is looking at colleges in New York and the Boston area and may pursue a career in bioinformatics research or teaching.