By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Arashleen Pannu, 17, a 2019 Shrewsbury High School graduate, was recently named a National Merit Scholar.
The National Merit Scholarship program began in 1955 as an academic competition for recognition and college scholarships.
Arashleen qualified for a $2,500 one-time scholarship. This distinction carries cache which has unlocked greater scholarship opportunities for her as she embarks on her collegiate path.
She plans to attend Penn State in the fall where she will pursue an accelerated, seven-year program of undergraduate and medical school studies in conjunction with the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia.
The NMSC names 15,000 students as Scholars which is less that the top one percent of those who qualified as semifinalists and finalists. Judging criteria include PSAT and SAT scores, grades, extracurricular activities, teacher recommendations and personal essays.
Outside of school, Arashleen has achieved a black-belt in karate; she was also on her school’s speech and debate team and the science fair team.
“I started doing science fair in middle school and then in my freshman and sophomore year I did a two-year science project. I represented Shrewsbury at regionals and state [competitions] and placed there a couple of times, so that was a big part of my high school career,” Arashleen noted.
She was also selected as a representative to the school district Wellness Advisory Committee where she helped implement a youth health risk survey pertaining to mental health and drug use which helped the district address these issues.
During her summers she has been a camp counselor at the Floral Street Summer Enrichment Camp, a volunteer at the Shrewsbury Public Library, and in a clerical capacity for the Center for Women and Infants at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester.
“It was a lot of paperwork and organizing things for the nurses, but it was definitely interesting to see how everything works because I want to go into medicine,” Arashleen said.
While not sure which exact medical discipline she wants to pursue, she is excited to take the opportunities in college to explore.
“I’m really excited to get into what I’ve wanted to do for a while…It’s rewarding to realize I’m on the right track,” she said. “I’d like to mix medicine with innovation and research – somehow find the intersection of innovation and medicine and research and help people. That’s the goal!”