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Engineered for success

August 11, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - Anna Lenhart has lived in the same house all of her life.

After spending the summer as a lifeguard and teaching swimming lessons at Claude M. Potterfield Pool, the 18-year-old leaves this month to attend Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa.

She chose Carnegie Mellon because it's "close but not too small. And I can run," she said.

Lenhart, a 2006 graduate of North Hagerstown High School, ran on the track and cross-country teams in high school.

This fall, she will join the team at college, which she said is a "comfort thing."

"A cross-country team is the closest bunch of friends you can get," she said.

When she wasn't running, Lenhart worked with the service organization Key Club, joined the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, served as class treasurer and enjoyed math and science classes, she said.

This summer, she has worked on making her class schedule and is signed up for biomedical and mechanical engineering classes this fall.

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She thought she would pursue a career in aerospace engineering and attended space camp when she was younger, she said.

But during her senior year, that plan changed.

"My Dad got really sick. I started to realize that biomedical engineering would be more useful to society," she said.

Lenhart said she might research and develop medical equipment.

Lenhart's father, Stephen Lenhart, died on Easter Sunday, but she maintained her responsibilities, North High principal Valerie Novak said.

"That had to be extremely difficult," Novak said.

Lenhart's parent's careers might explain her interest in engineering.

Lenhart's mother, Constance Lenhart, teaches environmental science at North High, and her father was an optician with a biology degree, Lenhart said.

"She was raised to be very in tune with math and sciences," Novak said.

According to the Society of Women Engineers, only 10.6 percent of engineers were women in 1999.

Novak said she hoped Lenhart could help change those statistics.

While she was touring the 10 colleges to which she applied, Lenhart noticed that few of the teaching assistants in engineering programs were Caucasian women, she said.

"I always held my own in math and science classes. I don't think it will be a problem," Lenhart said.

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