Meet the National Merit Semifinalists: Noor Wadi

Thursday, December 2, 2010
Noor Wadi is one of three National Merit Semifinalists from Cape Girardeau Central High School. The art of henna tattooing is one of her hobbies. (Kristin Eberts)

Today, the Southeast Missourian concludes its three-part series on local National Merit semifinalists, all of whom are enrolled at Cape Girardeau Central High School. Out of a competitive field of more than 1.5 million students who took the PSAT last year, these high-achieving seniors have joined this year's class of 16,191 semifinalists nationally, 341 from Missouri. They are the only representatives from an 18-school area in Southeast Missouri.

This week's scholar is Noor Wadi, an exemplary student with a sense of humor and a world view -- she is fluent in three languages (English, Arabic and Spanish) and semifluent in two others (French and Turkish).

Age: 16

Parents: Manal Elkarmi-Wadi and Musa Wadi

How do you balance school and extracurricular activities? I don't have a set method, really. I'm one in a family of eight, so my schedule varies a lot depending on what's going on with my family. I might spend a whole evening playing soccer mom in my minivan chauffeuring my siblings around to their various practices, which leaves little time for homework; the next day, however, could be totally chill so I'll spend it catching up on schoolwork I might not have finished the day before. Basically, every day is a different balancing act, and I just deal by knowing my priorities in life.

What is your dream college and what do you plan to study? Washington University; I plan on studying biomedical engineering, and this place has an awesome biomedical program. It also has Temper-Pedic mattresses in its dorms. Yep, my kind of college.

Who is your favorite teacher and how did she inspire you to learn? My favorite teacher would have to be Mrs. Robin Hankinson, aka Profita. I really did not realize my passion for languages until I took her Spanish class freshman year. Ever since then, she's helped me shape this passion into success both in the classroom and out.

What is the biggest challenge facing your generation? The biggest challenge facing our generation is the fact that we tend to judge people without getting to know them. It's so easy to do; with one look, we seem to think we are entitled to criticize anything that we see as weird. "What were they thinking?" you may hear people ask. Well, it's just that -- we don't know what they were thinking or what they were going through when they made a certain decision. We need to be more open-minded and less critical.

How do you plan to address it? There's not much I can do about it on a societal level; however, I do know that I can address this problem on a personal level. I already try to get to know those around me just because that's the way I am. I'm hoping that maybe this aspect of my personality will rub off on at least one person around me, who can then influence one of their friends who will influence one of their friends who ... OK, you get the point.

What is your favorite high school memory? After graduation, thinking back on high school will probably bring a flood of great memories to my mind, so I can't really choose one favorite. At the top of the list, however, would be the AP biology field trip to the zoo, tired bus rides home from freshman year soccer and volleyball games, and the henna party held at school by Coexist, a club I co-founded.

What are your expectations for college? In college, I look forward to having a more relaxed daily schedule. I also look forward to being able to focus my abilities on just one or two main subjects, instead of having to take all different subjects in an attempt to make me more a "well-rounded" student.

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