Senior reflects on high school experience, achievements and future

With her high school career coming to an end, Wilton High School senior and Warrior Words columnist Evaline Xie has a lot to look forward to, and a lot to be proud of.
Earlier this month, Evaline was named a 2015 National Merit Scholar as well as a U.S. Presidential Scholar — both of which “completely stunned” her.
Evaline is one of two Presidential Scholars from Connecticut and one of 141 students across the country selected by a panel of educators on the basis of superior achievements, leadership qualities, personal character, and involvement in community and school.
“I never even thought I could make it to the semifinalist stage when I was first applying [for the Presidential Scholars Program],” she said.
“I remember working on the application in February or so — more essays than a college application — and wondering if it was worth spending so much time on such a distant possibility, but I’m so glad I finished it.”
As a scholar, Evaline has been invited to a June recognition ceremony in Washington, D.C., where she and the other scholars will receive U.S. Presidential Scholar medallions and participate in various activities and events held in their honor.
“I feel hugely honored to receive the award and to go to D.C. in June,” said Evaline, who named math teacher David Delzell as her most influential teacher for the Presidential Scholar award.
“I have had tons of amazing teachers at Wilton High School, several of whom I feel have especially influenced me, but Mr. Delzell’s calculus class was probably the first time I actually realized and felt confident about a subject I wanted to study in the future,” said Evaline.
“I’m disappointed that the Recognition Program in Washington, D.C., has ended most of its programs for teachers in the last several years, but I still feel like the teacher recognition is a huge, important part of the awards program overall.”
Click here to learn more about the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

Merit Scholarship

Evaline and fellow Wilton High School senior Grace Nickel were named 2015 National Merit Scholars, making them two of 2,500 National Merit Scholarship winners selected from a pool of more than 15,000 finalists this year.
Scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors based on their:

  • Academic records.

  • Standardized test scores.

  • Contributions and leadership in school and community activities.

  • Essays.

  • Recommendations written by high school officials.

As a National Merit Scholar, Evaline received a $2,500 scholarship to be used at any regionally accredited college or university in the United States.
Beginning with her taking the PSATs in the fall of her junior year, Evaline said, the National Merit Scholarship Program process “has been a long” one, but she “was amazed and honored to receive the award at the end of it.”
Click here  to learn more about the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Other awards

During her high school career, Evaline also won awards for world language exams and competitions, including the National Greek Exam and the National French Contest. She also received the Connecticut Council of Language Teachers 2014 Student Award for Excellence.
“I was also honored with the Yale Book Award at the awards ceremony at the end of my junior year — an incredibly beautiful collection of Shakespeare’s works, now definitely one of my favorite books I own,” she said.

High school experience

After four years in high school, Evaline said, “there’s just so much I could say I wish I’d known as a freshman — or maybe I was already told these things as a freshman and just forgot about them.”
Evaline said the most important piece of advice she could give to incoming high school freshmen would be to “keep an open mind and be flexible.”
“If you think you hate math, you’ll hate math and suffer the worst kind of internal agony each time you walk into a math class,” she said.
“Keep your mind open to different subjects, teachers, activities, people, and you might just surprise yourself.”
Evaline said the “surprises” have been what she has loved most about high school.
“You’ll change your mind about your favorite subject, find out that you actually like to sing, form close relationships with people you’ve never spoken to before,” she said. “It’s amazing.”
“Whether it’s trying out for a sports team, auditioning for a school play or applying for a scholarship,” Evaline said, it’s also important to never hold back from trying something new.
“I wouldn’t have been named a Presidential Scholar or National Merit Scholar or be going to the college I’m attending next fall if I’d listened to the evil voice in my head that told me I couldn’t do it and it wasn’t worth trying,” she said.
“Always at least try, and don’t underestimate yourself. If it doesn’t work out, it isn’t the end of the world — there’s always another opportunity.”

Future plans

Next fall, Evaline will be attending Yale University in New Haven, where she plans to study applied mathematics.
“I’m also considering a double major in astrophysics or computer science,” she said, “and taking classes in English, international studies or essentially, every course of study that the school offers.”
Evaline said that right now, she is unsure what she ultimately wants to do career-wise.
“A lot of people tell me that engineering makes sense for me because I love both math and sciences. I don’t personally have a lot of engineering experience, though, so I’d like to take some classes and try it out next year before making that kind of decision,” she said.
“I also know that one of my friends currently at Yale went in as a pre-med biology major and is now studying political science and planning to go to law school. Life works in mysterious ways.”