Question: I hear you got a perfect composite score of 36 on your ACT test. Of the nearly 1.8 million students who took the test this year, only 1,162 earned a perfect composite score. When did you get the news?
Answer: Early October.
Q: Where you surprised?
A: I was surprised. It’s not like you go into it thinking of getting a perfect score. I was shooting for a 34 or 35. There was always that thought about how cool it would be to get a 36. I certainly was not expecting it.
Q: Was there anything or any questions you wondered about when you finished?
A: There were some things where the question was a little ambiguous and the answers were very close.
Q: What were the four sections?
A: Reading, math, English and science.
Q: Was your perfect ACT score announced?
A: Yes, I got a letter from ACT. They sent it to our principal as well.
Q: Could you talk about your classes this year?
A: I am in five AP (advanced placement) classes this year: AP biology, statistics, physics, European history and English. My sixth class is orchestra.
Q: What instrument do you play?
Q: What colleges have you applied to?
A: I did early applications to California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University Of Chicago.
Q: What major would you like to pursue?
A: I’m most interested in math and maybe physics.
Q: What career interests you?
A: I haven’t really figured out what I want to do for a career. I’m sure I want to go on to graduate school, maybe masters or Ph.D. in math or physics.
Q: Has math always been easy for you?
A: It’s come naturally to me for most of my life. Ever since I was really young I loved doing math. My dad is very good in math and he would teach me lessons in first or second grade. He would tell me the basics of algebra on Saturday mornings when I wasn’t doing anything. I didn’t know it was algebra, to be honest, until I started doing it in sixth grade and I said, ‘Ok I’ve done this before.’
Q: How much time do you spend doing homework?
A: It does vary, being that I take a lot of AP classes. I have a lot of homework. My attitude is I make it a goal to keep up and make use of my time when I have it. I make sure I understand it as I go so I’m doing it for a purpose and I understand it. It helps in that I don’t have to do a ton of additional studies.
I’ll probably spend 4 to 5 hours on homework over the weekend. On weekdays, maybe around one-and-a-half to two hours.
I do make it a high priority to get plenty of sleep. I’ve found that people who try studying late into the night, your retention goes way down. It’s better off putting in the time and effort when it’s going to court more.
Q: What’s your GPA?
A: A 4.0 right now. I think there are four or five seniors at Kamiak with 4.0.
Q: What school activities are you involved in?
A: I’m on the Knowledge Bowl team. And then the Human Rights Club at my school. I’m the president of the orchestra. We’re going to Costa Rica over spring break. I’m also a member of an elite chamber group at our school. They meet twice a week in the morning.
Q: Who’s your favorite composer?
A: I like symphonies. I like Beethoven’s and (Antonin) Dvorak’s symphonies in particular.
Q: What will your school’s orchestra be doing in Costa Rico during spring break?
A: A tour and also meeting up with groups there, doing some community performances. Our goal is to learn some Latin music and play like that.
Often times … people want to hear American music. A lot of times we’ll do cowboy themes.
Q: Like Aaron Copland?
A: Yes! “Rodeo.”
Q: What are the challenges you’ve faced?
A: I would say maybe there’s a bit of an attitude I’ve encountered. I’ve had a lot of success academically. Sometimes it’s a little disheartening when people say, “Well of course you did well on that.”
It’s like the assumption that I’ll do well and that any success I have is a given. That’s with other students. I have great support from my family. I get to the point where I’m not as open about how I do on things. I remember in middle school I was a bit more talky. I was really competitive and wanted to tell people how I did.
Since I got to high school I really kept that more to myself. If other people ask me, sometimes I share.
I think I got to the point where I don’t think about what other people think of my scores. I’m doing it for myself. If I’m doing well on the test, it means I’m doing well on that material.
Q: What sorts of thing do you enjoy doing to relax?
A: I try to delegate my time so I have time to sit back and relax. I spend time with my family.
Q: Who has influenced you the most?
A: Well, my family in general. I think I talked about how I like to carve time out to spend time with my family. It’s not forced. I do like my family.
I have a twin sister by the way. What’s interesting about that is she has completely different interests. She’s interested in animal studies. We’ve grown up together. We haven’t been competing with each other. We have different interests. But it’s cool to have someone to share those experiences with. She teaches me stuff all the time.
Q: What’s her name?
A: Laura. I have an older sister, Emily, at Western Washington University. She’s a senior graduating in the spring.
Q: Are there other experiences that have been important to you?
A: When we were really young we moved to France for 15 months. We were enrolled in public schools. We didn’t know how to speak French. My dad was getting MBA at Toulouse Business School.
We were relying on each other a lot. I think that experience with the five of us kind of alone in France really made me appreciate how extraordinary my family is.
It’s hard to say how they’ve influence me because they’ve influenced every part of me.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org