Brainerd High School senior Maya Kuehn has accomplished a few large feats this year -- including graduating at the top of her senior class with a 4.295 GPA.
Kuehn accomplished this while taking five Advanced Placement classes this school year. She has taken 10 total AP classes for her high school career. This semester she took Advanced Placement classes in language, German, calculus, European history and physics.
Kuehn, the daughter of Carter and Martha Kuehn of Brainerd, said she began taking Advanced Placement classes her sophomore year.
"I was frustrated up to 10th grade," she said. "The classes were boring and were not challenging. Then when I got to the high school and took an AP class it gave me something to work towards.
Brainerd High School senior Maya Kuehn recently played the French horn in Symphonic Band. Kuehn ranks No. 1 in the 2004 BHS class. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
"I always enjoyed learning."
Kuehn said she does not have a favorite class because she likes them all. One class in particular that has helped guide her future plans was AP chemistry. She took the class last year and earned a five, the highest score a student can get in the class. This helped her decide what major she wanted to study at college, chemical engineering.
She plans to attend Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. She visited the school last fall and she fell in love with it. She said it has a great reputation and engineering program, the size of the school matches her desires and the atmosphere of the school is to her liking.
Kuehn said her goal is to become a college professor. Another interest she has is running for a public office someday.
Another major accomplishment will help Kuehn with her college tuition. Kuehn was named a National Merit Scholarship winner and she will receive a $2,500 scholarship.
Kuehn was one of 16,000 seniors nationwide to be named a Merit semifinalist last fall and half of those seniors were recently named finalists. She was the only senior in the Brainerd lakes area to be named a finalist in 2004.
A few of the requirements Kuehn had to have to become a finalist was she had to have a record of high academic performance and she had to submit a detailed scholarship application, which included a self-descriptive essay and information about her participation and leadership in school and community activities.
Kuehn is involved in theater, symphonic band, Knowledge Bowl, tennis, Class Cabinet and German Club president. In the community, she is co-chair of the Conference Youth Ministries Committee for the United Church of Christ, president of Youth as Resources and has been involved in Youth in Government for four years.
"I learned how to speak my mind in Youth in Government," said Kuehn. "It helped me become more involved, more opinionated and plus I made a lot of connections across the state."
She also met a lot of people out of the state. She attended a national conference the summer before her junior year and visited students in New York, Boston and North Carolina.
Speaking her mind is a trait Kuehn is known for. In fact, she was named "Most Opinionated" by her classmates this year. She said it is good for people to have opinions and if you give her a topic, chances are she'll have an opinion on it.
A few areas where Kuehn speaks her opinion is on Mary Koep's radio show "Koeping with Politics" and in the Student Coalition for Peace group. Part of her involvement in this group was she helped organize the Iraq War protest at the high school.
Kuehn said in college she would like to get involved in a political organization. She plans to register in Illinois so she can vote in the 2004 presidential election.
Kuehn said she is eager to leave Brainerd, but will miss all the friends she has made along the way. She attended Lowell Elementary School and the same group of 20 students still hang out together. Recently the group went to the school playground to play four square and goofed around.
Last spring the fifth-graders at Lowell performed a "Lewis and Clark" musical and Kuehn said all her friends attended the musical. She said at the end they were asked to sing a song.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5851.
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