At just 17, Troy High School senior Neha Bokil has already taken 10 Advanced Placement (AP) classes in several subjects, including English, chemistry, biology and mathematics, which she calls "the most beautiful thing on the planet."
Last month, all of Bokil's hard work paid off when she was named winner of the 2011 Siemens Foundation’s Advanced Placement Award, which is given only to students who earn the highest math and science AP exam scores in the state.
The award comes with a $2,000 scholarship, and with only 101 recipients nationwide each year, it is regarded as one of the most prestigious high school academic awards in the country.
"We’re excited to recognize students who are doing exceptional work in math, science and technology," Siemens Foundation President Jennifer Harper-Taylor said. "To be able to showcase these bright and intelligent students is an honor."
Starting out young
Bokil is the offspring of mathematicians – her father is an engineer, and her mother is a computer programmer – and she has shown interest in math and science for much of her life.
"I've loved math since I was a little girl," Bokil wrote in her Siemens Foundation profile. "I still have vivid images of my second grade self, listening eagerly as my grandmother taught me the basics of algebra."
Her interest in science began later in eighth grade, when she had a teacher who showed her "just how wonderful science can be." Bokil began taking AP classes two years later in hopes that she would have a chance to study college-level material and receive college credit.
"My favorite class was AP Calculus BC," Bokil said. "I think (AP classes) gave me the experience and practice with college level material, so I know I can handle it really well.”
As National Merit Semifinalist and member of the National Honors Society (NHS), Bokil has since excelled in all of her classes at Troy High, including all 10 AP classes.
A well-rounded young woman
Though academics are a large part of her life – Bokil says she sometimes spends seven hours or more on homework each night – she still manages to find time for other hobbies, too.
"I play the flute," she said, adding that she also took Indian classical music lessons on keyboard from second through ninth grade.
In addition to music, Bokil is an avid reader who says she'll read just about anything she can get her hands on, including Harry Potter and anything written by William Shakespeare.
"I’m a fan of fiction," she said. "I like 'Much Ado about Nothing' and 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream.'"
Giving back to the community is also a priority for Bokil, who says she volunteers through NHS as a tutor. "I tutor a lot, mostly students at our school," she said. "They come in for our academic intervention program."
Bokil is also Spanish Club president at her school and is involved in Model United Nations, and she has won the National Spanish Exam Oro Award three years in a row.
Big plans for the future
Bokil said winning the award from the Siemens Foundation was a very pleasant surprise – one that she was not expecting at all.
"I actually got an email from them that I had won this award, and when I opened the email, I really couldn’t believe hat I had won," she said. "I'm obviously really proud of it, and I feel like it's such a nice representation of the hard work I’ve done."
Bokil said she hopes to continue her studies in math and science at Princeton – her top choice – or at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she has already been accepted. Ideally, she said she would like to someday be a genetics researcher.
Of course, her parents are very proud of Bokil's accomplishments, both in and outside of school, and have supported her numerous academic endeavors throughout the years.
"My parents are very proud of me," Bokil said, "and they’re very happy to see all those nights staying up late had paid off and I’d gotten something really nice out of it."
For more information on the Siemens Foundation Advanced Placement Award and to view lists of past and present winners, visit the Siemens Foundation website.