WAHS Senior Advances in National Program, Plans to Attend MIT

Senior Elizabeth Rider has plenty to celebrate as she moves into the final months of her academic career at Williamsport Area High School.

In under a month, the upcoming grad was accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and received a Certificate of Achievement from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation for qualifying as one of 1,300 finalists in the National Achievement Scholarship Program.

According to its website, the National Achievement Scholarship Program “is an academic competition established in 1964 to provide recognition for outstanding Black American high school students. Black students may enter both the National Achievement Scholarship Program and National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test and meeting other published requirements for participation.”

With aspirations to work for NASA or SpaceX, Rider plans to pursue a degree in aerospace engineering and is considering a minor in political science.

The senior said she “didn’t know how to react” when she received her acceptance letter to MIT. In fact, she said with a smile, “I didn’t tell my parents for a couple of hours. I couldn’t believe it. I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity.”

Rider said she looks forward to attending a university that has such a strong culture of high achievement and learning from those who have patents to their name for cutting edge research.

Reflecting on her innate love for space science growing up, her passion really didn’t take hold until she took physics. It was then, she said, that the subject became what she believed as “the most important thing that I could be doing.”

“It’s both challenging and practical. You can see all of its applications,” she said. “If I weren’t studying physics, I would probably be studying theology to find the truth behind the universe.”

At the high school, Rider is involved with Mock Constitutional Convention; Model United Nations; Student Ambassador Council; the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Club; and volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“I’m thankful for what the district and my teachers have done for me,” she added. “Without them, I wouldn’t have done as well I have.”

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