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WDC science whiz kid a 'commended student'

A love for science and a gift for academics opened the door for Wadena-Deer Creek Senior Emily Hunt's recognition as one of 50,000 students in the 2007 National Merit Scholarship program.

Hunt was named a commended student due to her high score in the Preliminary SAT. Qualifiers in the National Merit Scholarship program were selected from 1.4 million entrants.

The honor surprised Hunt, she said.

"I didn't think I did all that well on the test," she said.

However, an announcement of "Emily Hunt report to the counselor's office" resounding from the loud speaker on her way to class soon informed the unsuspecting student that she did score well.

Thirty-four thousand other students were named commended students and 16,000 were named semifinalists in the program. Hunt did not win any money but the honor may allow her to win other scholarships.

Hunt's high ACT score has already qualified her for a $10,000 scholarship over four years at North Dakota State University if she is accepted, she said. The school is Hunt's top college pick, so far.

"They have a way better variety of more fun, nerdy science programs than anybody else I've looked at," she said.

She would like to pursue a research career. Right now she is planning on majoring in microbiology, but said she may change her mind. Another major that interests Hunt is food science.

"I like science-type things, math," she said.

Encouragement from her parents and some "cool" science teachers over the years inspired Hunt's interest in the discipline, she said. Watching "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," "The Magic School Bus," "Bill Nye the Science Guy" and nature programs also helped shape her innate scientific curiosity.

"It's kind of fun to know how the world works," she said. "There's a lot of problem solving involved. I like that."

Math and science are Hunt's favorite subjects, but she has experienced overall success academically.

"I've always been kind of freakish about getting good grades," she said. "It hasn't really been that hard for me."

Her achievements extend beyond the classroom. She has played violin since she was in the third grade and would like to join an orchestra when she goes to college, she said. She is also "into drama hard core," she said. And, much to her surprise, she won a leading role as Hercules' girlfriend in this fall's play. She enjoys one-acts as well, which she describes as a competitive version of drama.

The Wadena native is eagerly anticipating further spreading her wings when she attends college next fall.

"I'm looking forward to the whole college lifestyle," she said. "Meeting new people. It'll be really fun."