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Macon Student Wins $25,000 Discover Card Scholarship

July 2005
Macon Student Wins $25,000 Discover Card Scholarship

Discover Card recently announced that Sameer Gupta, along with eight other national winners, would receive a $25,000 scholarship award. A student at Central High School in Macon, Sameer was one of over 45000 applicants this year. On his school's academic team, Sameer is the undisputed science expert. His extensive knowledge helped his team win the Beta Club Quiz Bowl State Championship in 2004, and his leadership as captain led them to the state championship two years in a row.

In 10th grade, while most of his peers replicated existing studies, Sameer's science fair project broke new ground. Combining genetics and anthropology, he sought to disprove widely accepted theories about pre-Columbian migration across North America. He spent hours learning to use lab equipment, studying research papers and reading college biology texts. He and his partner painstakingly analyzed mitochondrial DNA from the dental remains of Algonquins dating back to 800 A.D.

Their final presentation was so advanced that regional judges disqualified the project refusing to believe the work was their own. Sameer appealed and won the right to compete at the state level as a wild card. Defending their study before a panel of experts, Sameer and his partner won the Grand Prize as well as the U.S. Army's top science team award, the 2nd Grand Award at the Intel International Science Fair, and the Anthropology Award at the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair. Sameer's academic advisor believes the study has extended knowledge of early Native Americans by 300 years.

When a heart murmur made it difficult for him to run for extended periods of time, Sameer established a training program to build his stamina. He now runs 5K and 10K and was ranked 2nd on his regional championship tennis team.

Sameer defines leadership as the ability to inspire and unite others to achieve a common goal. As director of his Youth Leadership Bibb County Class, Sameer represented his peers on the faculty board of directors. He has also served as an officer in his school's Beta Club, the National Honor Society, the Earth and Science Club, the Red Cross Youth Board and Spanish Club. He balances these activities with rigorous academic work in the International Baccalaureate program.

In his many leadership roles, Sameer saw a need for greater communication among the clubs and organizations at Central High. To solve the problem, he created and now directs the Executive Round Table (ERT), which brings club leaders and advisors together to share ideas and coordinate efforts. As one of 35 students on the Georgia Student Advisory Council, Sameer also provides input to the State Superintendent of Schools, which has resulted in positive change to school policy.

Sameer plans to become a physician.

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