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Girl selected for internship

June 09, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

SMITHSBURG - With two older siblings in medical school and a mother who is a local physician, Misbah Shafi said her decision to become a doctor was not surprising.

Misbah, a 17-year-old who will be a senior at Smithsburg High School in the fall, said she will take a step toward that goal by working as an intern at the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Md. The Hagerstown resident was one of about 50 students selected for the competitive internship, and is the only one chosen from Washington County.

Misbah will participate in the Werner H. Kirsten Student Internship Program during the summer and through her senior year of high school.

"I'll be working mostly with a computer program with the human genome and running labs," she said.

Misbah will work in the laboratory of genomic diversity, and will work on a genome project designed to research comparative genomics of the immune system. Some of her work will involve DNA analysis, using technology that includes a robotics system and an automated DNA sequencer, according to information released by the school system.

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Two Washington County Public Schools students were involved in the internship program during the most recent school year - Atlee Baker of Smithsburg and Alex Ray of South Hagerstown High School.

Misbah said she learned about the internship from her AP biology teacher, William Fowkes, and applied in early January.

"I wasn't really serious about it at the beginning," she said.

In March, Misbah began the first of three interviews for the internship, and learned she had been selected in May. She said about 90 students applied from neighboring counties.

"I'm just interested in learning," she said. "I'm very interested in science. I plan on becoming a doctor."

Misbah said working at the National Cancer Institute will give her some insight and background for that career. But when she first applied, Misbah, an honor student, said she didn't think she would be selected for the internship.

"I thought it was a long shot," she said. "I thought geniuses are going to get it and I don't have a chance."

Misbah said she hesitated to take the internship at first because it would mean she's unable to enroll in AP chemistry during the upcoming school year.

"What I would have been learning (in that class) would be interesting," she said. "But I think the internship is more important."

Misbah said she also is on the varsity tennis team, is involved in student government and is a member of the National Honor Society.

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