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Quaker Valley senior candidate for Presidential Scholar

| Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, 2:21 p.m.
Quaker Valley High School senior Hannah Bablak stands for a photo inside the school Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Hannah recently was named a Presidential Scholar candidate.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Quaker Valley High School senior Hannah Bablak stands for a photo inside the school Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Hannah recently was named a Presidential Scholar candidate.

A Quaker Valley High School student has been named a Presidential Scholar candidate as part of a program that honors the nation's most distinguished high school seniors.

Hannah Bablak found out she was nominated as one of 4,000 students nationwide through an unsuspecting letter in the mail.

“I didn't really know what the award was at first. I got a letter in the mail that I was named a candidate,” Bablak said.

Each year up to 161 students are named as Presidential Scholars, a program established in 1964. The scholars will be announced in early May, according to the group's website.

Students are chosen based on their academic achievements and standardized test scores. Presidential Scholars receive an expense-paid trip to Washington, D. C., in June and attend a ceremony sponsored by the White House.

Quaker Valley AP U.S. history and government and politics teacher Mary Kuchek said Bablak is one of the most talented history and writing students she has had.

“I was always amazed at how much detail and analysis Hannah could squeeze into a timed writing in AP World History and AP US History,” Kuchek said. “She has always had a fascination with history and a keen way of observing the world.”

Bablak said attending a John Hopkins science camp years ago piqued her interest in epidemiology and public health.

“I love to see how medicine can be applied to individuals and how every application is unique,” she said.

Bablak applied to universities including Johns Hopkins and Rice. She hopes to major in medicine science and humanities, and to work in the public health field.

“She has always been very focused, driven and independent,” said Jane Bablak, Hannah's mother.

Quaker Valley High School English teacher Samantha Stewart said Hannah is a role model. “Her intelligence is apparent through her academic performance, but what truly impresses me is her grace. She is academically inclined, yet full of inquiry,” her mother said. “There is really not enough I can say about this young woman – Hannah will change the world.”

Hannah's mother said she teaches all four of her children — Hannah is the oldest — to help others.

“I have always referenced the Bible verse Thessalonians 5:11: ‘Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.'”

Christina Sheleheda is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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