Hanover High senior awarded prestigious scholarship
The $20,000 annual scholarship is a memorial tribute to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation's founding president.
"Katherine was chosen from a pool of finalists judged to be among the most distinguished students in this year's competition, who are planning to pursue majors and careers in science or mathematics," the Corporation said in an announcement on Wednesday.
At the school on Wednesday, 18-year-old Katherine credited the great teachers and academic opportunities for independent study at both Hanover middle and high schools in part for her academic success.
Katherine plans to attend Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., this fall.
"I'm planning on studying applied math or statistics," she said. "I've had some great experiences with math all through my middle and high school here in Hanover."
In her independent study, she has been able to study creative writing and yoga, the poetry of Robert Frost, film adaptations of Shakespeare and a special focus on math.
"There are a lot of opportunities outside of the traditional curriculum," she said.
"There's an engaging robust opportunity to get involved with a lot of things," said SAU No. 70 superintendent Frank G. Bass of the high school. "It becomes learning for learning's sake."
After college she plans to pursue her two passions, teaching and research, and become a professor.
"When I was in middle school my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, which was a huge setback for me. It was a huge challenge for my family, and I felt powerless at the time," she said.
When she entered high school she took control of the situation while pursuing her interest in biology, she said.
"In order to cope with that situation I wanted to get involved in oncology research, so for the past three summers I've been doing pancreatic research in the lab of professor Murray Korc, who, when I first approached him, was chairman of Medicine at Dartmouth, and it's just been a fabulous experience."
Justin Campbell, principal of Hanover High School, said Katherine is the first New Hampshire student to receive the prestigious award and was chosen from an initial pool of 1.5 million applicants.
"It was such an incredible honor. I wasn't expecting it at all," she said.
Bass said the district is proud of Katherine, noting she is also the founder of the school's debate team, as well as a national and statewide debate champion.
She lives in Hanover with her two brothers, Hanover High School freshman Justin Chen, second-grader James Chen, and her parents, Jack and Elisabeth Chen.