College bound: Smithsburg student's top choice is Georgetown

February 17, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Editor's note: What are your best memories from your senior year of high school? Was it prom? Making the basketball team? Did you get your driver's license that year? This school year, The Herald-Mail will talk with seniors from each public high school in Washington County about the memories they are making. Each month through their graduation, eight students will talk about the moments that are making their senior year special.

SMITHSBURG -- She's the youngest of four, and as the last to go to college, Misbah Shafi said that location was important to her when selecting a university.

Misbah's parents don't want her too far from home, the Smithsburg High School senior said.

Luckily, Misbah's top choices are nearby. She hopes to enroll at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., in the fall, but she already has been accepted to three schools in Maryland.

She received acceptance letters from Hood College in Frederick, Mount Saint Mary's University in Emmitsburg and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. Misbah still is waiting to hear from four schools, including Georgetown; George Washington University in Washington, D.C.; Penn State University; and Drexel University in Philadelphia.


She said she expects to hear from those colleges later this month.

"That's when I'll probably start running to the mailbox every day," Misbah said.

Waiting for her acceptance letters has been difficult, she said.

"It's really a horrible thing," Misbah said. "I am just getting really anxious. What if I don't get in and end up at Hood?"

She said Hood is too close to home, and she would like to enroll at a college in a larger city, such as Washington.

Each of the seven schools she applied to have one thing in common -- a good science program.

Misbah, an honor student, said she likely will major in biology and perhaps go on to medical school. The 17-year-old has a sister in medical school and a mother who is a local physician.

Her sister, Sadia Shafi, graduated from Georgetown in 2004 and now is attending medical school at Temple University in Philadelphia.

When applying to college, it was important for her to have good grades, a good SAT score and a lot of extracurricular activities, Misbah said.

"That's what really helped me," she said. "I have a lot of extracurriculars."

At Smithsburg High School, she is vice president of the Student Government Association, secretary of the National Honor Society, secretary of the

Future Business Leaders of America club and a member of the environmental club. She also is a member of the school's varsity girls tennis team.

Since last summer, Misbah has interned at the National Cancer Institute in Frederick. Misbah, who lives east of Hagerstown, was one of about 50 students selected for the competitive internship, and was the only one chosen from Washington County.

She will participate in the Werner H. Kirsten Student Internship Program through her senior year, and said she might ask to stay on through the summer.

She works in the laboratory of genomic diversity and works on a genome project designed to research comparative genomics of the immune system. Some of her work involves DNA analysis, using technology that includes a robotics system and an automated DNA sequencer.

"I enjoy it," Misbah said. "But it's frustrating. It takes a lot of time to get the data together."

She said she is doing work now that she, otherwise, probably wouldn't see until graduate school or medical school.

While Misbah is looking forward to college courses and a possible career in the medical field, she also wants to do more than study during college, she said.

That's another reason that Georgetown is her top choice. It's in Washington, D.C., and she hopes to take advantage of the proximity of museums and experience the diversity of the area.

"The location really matters, as far as the type of people you will meet," she said.

Misbah said she's looking forward to exploring Washington.

"You don't want to study all the time," she said. "You want to go out and do things."

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