Davidson High School’s Rupa Palanki has been named a $2,500 National Merit Scholarship winner.
Palanki, Davidson’s 2017 valedictorian, is among 2,500 students nationally recognized from a pool of 15,000 finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarship winners are those judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in college studies.
More than 1,000 corporate-based Merit Scholarships were announced in April, and about 4,000 more college-sponsored Merit Scholarships will be announced in June and July.
“It’s just really exciting,” she said. “It’s just kind of a culmination of the past four years. It means my teachers have really prepared me well throughout high school, I know that I tested well, and it means National Merit has recognized my accomplishments throughout high school, and I really appreciate that.”
Along with her academic achievements at Davidson, where she’s a member of the school’s International Baccalaureate and Engineering Pathways Integrated Curriculum (EPIC) programs, Palanki has been involved in a host of extracurricular activities at the school and in the Mobile community.
She has been CEO of Davidson RobotEx, which won the South’s BEST regional robotics competition this year. She was student council president at Davidson, a leader of Davidson’s Invitational Model United Nations and captain of scholar’s bowl and Hi-Q teams. Davidson’s Hi-Q team has won the county championship in each of the last two years and placed second this year in a national competition featuring four of the top teams in the country.
She is a National Honor Society member, an AP scholar with distinction, an Alabama Junior Academy of Sciences state contest winner, a Junior Science and Humanities Symposium winner, an Intel International Science and Engineering Fair finalist, a Scholastic Arts and Writing Competition gold pin winner, and a presenter at the 2016 White House Science Fair.
She is also an Azalea Trail Maid, a volunteer at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital, a YMCA Youth in Government representative, and a member of the cultural exchange program between Mobile and its sister city of Ichihara, Japan.
And she’s gotten a jump start on her college career with experience as a researcher at the University of South Alabama’s College of Engineering. As a freshman, her work there resulted in a provisional patent on a pyroelectric energy harvesting device.
After graduation, she will attend the University of Pennsylvania, where she’s considering majoring in international relations.
As graduation approaches, Davidson has been sharing advice from its top 10 seniors to its freshman class. Palanki’s advice: “Get involved. There are so many great opportunities available at Davidson. Don’t be afraid to go after things that you want.”