14. Kaela Verner

Kaela Verner

Cascia Hall
Attending: Stanford University

Intended major:Biochemistry with a minor in marine biology with a pre-med track. 

Biggest influence:My mom. She is the one that inspired me to be the person that I am. She is a headstrong person that takes on anything thrown at her. She is not easily discouraged and fights hard for things she believes in. She has taught me that it is OK to ask for help, and you are not weak because of it. 

Greatest achievement: Overcoming my desire to please everyone. I was one of those people who ran themselves into the ground and ignored my own physical and mental state. But from this, I learned that there is a balance to being happy as well as making others happy. 

Career interests: I plan to pursue a career in trauma surgery or as an Army medic or lead surgeon in an established hospital.

I would trade places for one day with: Elsa [from Disney’s Frozen]. I know this is a weird choice, but hear me out – she lives in a castle, she has powers and she can sing like nobody’s business. I think this is the ideal life. 

The next 10-20 years: In 10 years, I see myself in the military. I want to be an infantry medic during my residency, if not longer. In 20 years, if I am no longer in the military, I want to be in a level four hospital in a major city.

Most surprising personal detail: I am a black belt. I have been doing taekwondo since I was nine and it is a huge part of my life.

13. Zach Schmit

Zach Schmit

Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School
Attending: University of Oklahoma

Intended major: Chemical engineering. My favorite subjects are chemistry and math, so I combined the two.

Biggest influence: My first club soccer coach, James Soesbee, because he taught me to believe in myself and my abilities.

Greatest achievement: Earning an offer to play football at [the University of] Oklahoma.

Career interests: I would like to be a forensics expert in the FBI/CIA.

I would trade places for one day with: Lionel Messi, because he is my favorite and best soccer player and I’d like to see what it’s like to play professional soccer.

The next 10-20 years: In both 10 and 20 years, I see myself working for the FBI or CIA. Hopefully I am married and have two kids.

A unique character trait: I am down to Earth and someone who always works hard, no matter the situation. I am someone who gives every little task my all.

Most surprising personal detail: I never wanted to kick in college until my sophomore year [of high school]. I was planning on playing soccer in college.

12. Indrakshi Tiwari

Indrakshi Tiwari

Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics
Attending: Tulane University

Intended major: Cell and molecular biology. 

Biggest influences: My parents. Both of them came from Guyana, which is a developing country, so they grew up with little. After years of hard work, they moved to America to raise a family. When my siblings and I were very young, my parents instilled in us the value of hard work, and they provided us the tools we needed to succeed.

Greatest achievement: Knowing what I want to do with my life. At a young age, I knew that I wanted to be a doctor. I have been able to partake in clubs and activities that will prepare me for my future. Overall, I’m happy that I haven’t wasted any time being indecisive about my life choices.

I would trade places for one day with: Serena Williams. My favorite sport is tennis, and Serena has always been my idol. Her absolute dedication to the game is phenomenal. She has shown me that hard work and commitment always pay off.

The next 10-20 years: In ten years, I see myself as a resident at an intensive learning hospital. In twenty years, I see myself as a surgical oncologist at a cancer treatment center.

Most surprising personal detail: I am a very relaxed person. Although I have big goals, and I work really hard to achieve them, I understand the value of taking time for yourself.

11. Luke Balezentis

Luke Balezentis Photo courtesy Ervin Photography

Bishop Kelley High School
Attending: Rockhurst University

Intended major: Business. After taking an AP macroeconomics class, I realized that business related topics intrigue me. 

Career interests: I have always enjoyed the outdoors, and I know that a cubicle job would drive me insane … so that leaves me with a few options. The career that I find most interesting and different would be within the pool industry. I think it would be awesome to make a backyard vacation a reality for people in my community.

Unique character traits: My work ethic and “old” characteristics. I work hard at everything I do, applying my energy efficiently to the job that needs to be completed. By “old” characteristics, I mean many of the characteristics a grandfather would have: I wake up really early just to get a head start on the day; I listen to old classic country; I am learning the harmonica. My friends describe me as a young adult with an old soul.

Most surprising personal detail:  I love to garden. I grow okra, tomatoes, basil, parsley, onions, cucumbers, peppers and more.

Bonus fact: For over five years I have taken up the hobby of woodworking. I finance a lot of my tools and projects by selling my work. I make exotic pens, duck calls, knives, cutting boards, wooden bow ties, book cases and a lot more. I acquired this passion after my grandfather died when I inherited some of his woodworking tools. The rest is history. 

10. Isabella Griffey

Isabella Griffey

Jenks High School
Attending: The U.S. Naval Academy

Intended major: Operations research, which uses math to solve real world problems. 

Biggest influences: My parents. From a young age, they have instilled good morals and values in me. They’ve shown me what hard work looks like, and it is because of them that I have achieved much success.

Greatest achievement: Receiving an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. The process of applying was not easy, and the Naval Academy is very selective. I worked my entire high school career to build an exceptional resume in order achieve my ultimate goal of serving my country.

Career interests: Upon graduation, I will serve a minimum of five years in the U.S. Navy. I ultimate goal is to go through flight school to become a naval aviator and continue flying for the remainder of my career.

A unique character trait: My drive and dedication. When a certain task becomes difficult, it only encourages me to work harder. 

Most surprising personal detail: Due to my all-business and reserved personality, it typically surprises people that I am a gun enthusiast who has trained with multiple firearm platforms. In fact, I was even on a skeet shooting team through my FFA chapter. I also enjoy exciting adventures such as skydiving and other sports.

9. Shashwat Singh

Shashwat Singh

Riverfield Country Day School
Attending: University of Southern California

Intended major: Philosophy, politics and economics. I’ve been interested in politics since eighth grade when my social studies teacher devoted the third quarter to teaching us about elections and the government. My interest in economics developed more recently, especially due to my financial literacy class and the onset of this year’s financial crisis. A PPE degree is a great interdisciplinary program that helps combine my primary interests.

Biggest influence: Miss James, my history teacher in grades 10-12, has had a profound impact on my life. She has always supported me academically, emotionally and in other ways when she can. When I have had to make significant decisions in my life or needed support with anything of importance, I have usually turned to her. 

Greatest achievement: Getting to elimination rounds at the national speech and debate tournament senior year.

Career interests: I hope to attend either law or business school and go into the financial industry or become a lawyer.

I would trade places for one day with: Indian politician  Shashi Tharoor. He is one of my idols due to his unique perspective on the relationship between Britain and India, and his integrity and maturity in a tumultuous political environment in India.

Most surprising personal detail: My favorite sport to watch/play is cricket, and I love to cook and bake.

8. Emily Newby

Emily Newby

Broken Arrow High School
Attending: University of Oklahoma

Intended major: Entrepreneurship with a minor in anthropology. 

Biggest influence: My little sister. When she was very small, everything she saw influenced who she was. Knowing that I held that sort of power over her development, even if only partially, introduced me to my influence on the world in an intimate way, and it pushed me to be someone whose influence was genuinely good – or as good as it could be!

Greatest achievement: It’s a tie. The moment I saw I qualified to be a National Merit semifinalist is burned into my memory; after months of studying and attending workgroups, I had accomplished something I truly strove to achieve. I have also always loved to write, but I never put it out into the world. This year I did! I spent a long time working on drafts and coming up with the best way to phrase things, and I won a local writing contest. 

A unique character trait: I’m willing to do things when I don’t want to do them. While it is not that flashy of a trait, being able to work on things outside of when you’re motivated to allows you to make consistent progress, and that consistent effort is hard to maintain. I know from firsthand experience that procrastinating is almost always more appealing. 

Most surprising personal detail: I could 100% own someone in Just Dance 2 on the Wii.

7. Samuel Jun

Samuel Jun

Casady School
Attending: U.S. Air Force Academy

Intended major: Biology. During my time at Casady, I decided to take AP biology and anatomy/physiology as a senior, and within the first month, I was hooked! 

Biggest influences: My parents. They’ve taught me so much about maturity, perseverance and passion. I greatly appreciate the example they have set and the constant encouragement they have provided. Love you, Mom and Dad!

Greatest achievement: Passing on the torch to the next student council (StuCo) presidents. StuCo has been one of the most important parts of my life at Casady. The honor of being able to confidently say “You got this!” makes me so happy, knowing that StuCo is being placed in very capable hands. I’m so proud of what they have achieved and can’t wait to hear about what they accomplish!

The next 10-20 years: In 10 years, I will most likely be a commissioned officer in the Air Force. In 20 years, I hope to be in medical school, maybe have a wife and kids. I’m probably going to be driving a Honda Fit.

Most surprising personal detail:  I love cars – everything about cars. I love how they look, how they work, how they go fast. It’s a passion I share with my dad, so it’s even more fun. I also love anime. 

6. Brita Faerber

Brita Faerber

Booker T. Washington High School
Attending: Rice University

Intended major: Cognitive science with a focus in psychology. Cognitive science involves the study of linguistics, philosophy, neuroscience and psychology, all of which have captivated me through both schoolwork and recreational study. I identified psychology as my primary interest while interning for Kathy LaFortune at the Tulsa Juvenile Bureau.

Greatest achievement: Representing Tulsa’s youth at the Mayor’s Police and Community Coalition (MPACC) via daily newscast in 2018. As a woman of color attending a historically black high school, I was honored to discuss issues like disproportionate minority contact and the school-to-prison pipeline with local law enforcement. Such issues have not been resolved, and I will continue to advocate for their rectification.

Career interests: Pediatric medicine.

I would trade places for one day with: Jane Austen! I love the architecture, accents and attire of 19th century England and have always wondered if the social climate was as chaotic as she portrayed it.

Most surprising personal detail: I am bilingual.

Bonus fact: Christopher Nolan movies with Hans Zimmer soundtracks are my favorite form of entertainment.

5. Cade Waits

Cade Waits

Metro Christian Academy
Attending: Drury University

Intended major: Mathematics with a focus on data analytics, due to my interest in how you can use trends to predict the future.

Biggest influences: Besides my parents, my pitching coach and friend, George Frazier. George has the ability to push me to perform my best while still showing care and respect.

Greatest achievement: Earning academic and baseball scholarships.

Career interests: My plan is to use my degree in data analytics to start my own company that helps businesses prioritize assets and understand what areas they need to continue exploring.

I would trade places for one day with: Jordan Hicks. I’d love to know the feeling of throwing [a baseball] at 105 mph.

Most surprising personal detail: I have two extremely different interests: the one that appreciates and loves sports, and the other that appreciates and loves fine arts.

Bonus fact: 90% of my success is credited to a double jointed right elbow.

4. Kailey O’Connor

Kailey O’Connor

Mount St. Mary Catholic High School
Attending: Oklahoma State University

Intended major: Biosystems engineering. As a kid, I was always interested in solving problems and being outside. I feel as though biosystems engineering combines my love of science with my love of the outdoors and the environment.

Biggest influences: My family. My dad’s ambition has shown me the importance of going above and beyond. My mother has shown me the importance of caring for and helping others. My brother has shown me the importance of never giving up and having a good sense of humor.

Greatest achievement: Being successful in academics and in my service to my community. I’ve worked really hard in school, and I was able to earn the honor of being valedictorian. I was also president of a service club and created a recycling program at my school. 

Career interests: I would love to work with poor communities and find ways to get them clean water and resources. I really want to work with aquaponics and hydroponics to find ways to feed the world in a more efficient manner.

I would trade places for one day with: Adam Wainwright, a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals who runs a charity that provides clean water to people in need all over the world. 

A unique character trait: My ability to take action. If I recognize a problem, I put in the work to fix it. 

3. Becca Levit

Becca Levit

Holland Hall
Attending: Northwestern University

Intended major: Sociology. I really had no idea what it was until the summer before my junior year when I took a course in the sociology of gender. Although this was about gender, in this class I was also exposed to the ideas of privilege and power relating to race and socioeconomic status. Through this class, I identified sociology as a foundational part of understanding modern inequalities. 

Biggest influence: My mom has had a lot of influence because I have seen her work so hard. She is always so passionate and stands for what she believes in. My dance teachers have had a huge influence on my life, too. I danced at my studio from pre-school to senior year. They watched me grow up, and I think being at that studio for so long really sculpted me as a person, not just a dancer.

Greatest achievement: I think it’s simply going through high school by challenging myself academically, spending time with friends and family, and pursuing my interests and extracurriculars. I am very thankful I was able to balance all of those elements.

I would trade places for one day with: A supreme court justice, because they make such an impact on our country.

Most surprising personal detail: I’ve danced my entire life and spent a few hours almost every day at the dance studio after school and on weekends.

2. Cole Jennings

Cole Jennings

Augustine Christian Academy
Attending: Ozark Christian College

Intended major: Student ministry. I’ve considered entering a dual degree program with Missouri Southern. I decided to professionally pursue ministry while I was at a Christian youth conference the summer before my senior year. I had been asking God what He wanted me to study in college when He told me to study youth ministry.

Greatest achievement: I have participated in my school’s musicals since some friends convinced me to try one in sixth grade. According to several friends and the director of all the musicals, I was a horrible singer when I first started, and one friend said they genuinely thought I was tone-deaf. But my voice got its act together and I was given the lead role of Cornelius in Hello Dolly in our 2019 production! I was then offered the chance to participate in the Discovery Awards, when a panel of judges selected me as the best male lead in the show.

I would trade places for one day with: I don’t have a specific person in mind, but I’d want to live as someone whose hand in life isn’t conventionally great, or even decent (i.e. nice house, plenty of food, a car, etc.) so I could better appreciate the blessings in my life.

Bonus fact: I grew up watching Shrek 2 because we owned it for some reason, and I didn’t watch the first Shrek until I was 15 and it was put on Netflix. The jury is still out on whether I like Shrek or Shrek 2 more.

1. Anna Claire McMullen

Anna Claire McMullen

Union High School
Attending: University of Tulsa

Intended major: Biochemistry with a pre-vet focus. I hope to attend vet school and then earn a Ph.D. in pharmacology after undergrad. 

Greatest achievement: Living with passion. Living with mental illness has been a great struggle, and I am incredibly proud of living vibrantly.

Career interests: I plan to be a research professor of veterinary pharmacology and disease ecology. I hope to create new medications to help save species while also teaching the next generation.

I would trade places for one day with: The president. A whole term would be incredibly taxing, but one day would be enough to get something done without causing great stress in my life. I would rejoin the Paris Agreement and pressure Congress to strengthen healthcare.

The next 10-20 years: In 10 years, I will be out of vet school and in a Ph.D. program for pharmacology. I’m 20 years, I will be deep into research for medications to save endangered species.

Most surprising personal detail: Rats are my favorite animals!

Bonus fact: Outside of school, I love to practice the aerial arts. My favorite apparatus is lyra, or aerial hoop. I enjoy choreographing and performing to music. I practice with Tribe Circus Arts.