Recent Xavier Graduate and National Merit Scholar, Claire Woodrow, is Off to Stanford University

As a recent graduate, how well do you think Xavier prepared you for college?

Xavier provided me with countless opportunities to grow intellectually.  I was able to achieve both breadth and depth to my education because I had access to an abundance of courses.  At Xavier, I not only explored a variety of subjects, I also used AP classes to dive deeper into disciplines that captured my interest.  In the classroom, I was challenged.  I learned the value of hard work and going the extra mile.  Teachers taught me good study habits and test taking skills.  Most importantly, a love of learning was fostered within me.  As I look forward to my college career, I look back and realize what a gift it was to go to a school like Xavier that prepared me so well for the future.

Which college will you be attending? What will you be studying?

I am very fortunate to call Stanford University my home for the next four years.  I plan to major in biology with a focus on neurobiology.  In addition to science classes, I will also study English and Spanish, two subjects I love.  I hope to attend medical school after obtaining my undergraduate degree.

Tell our readers about your involvement as a National Merit Scholar.

I am a National Merit Scholar, a title bestowed upon students who score in the top 1% on the PSAT and are then chosen following completion of an application detailing their academic and extracurricular accomplishments.  My advice to those who are interested in the National Merit program would be to spend time reviewing for the PSAT during the summer before junior year with an emphasis on honing math and vocabulary skills.

Tell us about being the Editor of the Xavier newspaper.

I felt honored to serve as Editor-in-Chief of the Xavier Xpress newspaper this past year.  After redesigning the paper to make it more uniform and readable, the extraordinary Xpress staff and I worked hard throughout the year to produce articles on topics that would capture the interest of our classmates.  Some of my favorite times on the paper were spent with the section editors brainstorming themes for our issues.  Putting the paper together was like baking a new cake from scratch every month.  Once we came up with the theme, the recipe for the issue, we began assembling the many different ingredients, or articles that would give the paper a unique flavor.  We frosted our cake with sweet visualizations including photos, illustrations, and a cover that perfectly complemented the kind of cake we were creating.  As Editor-in-Chief, there was no feeling quite as satisfying as tasting our finished product when it was fresh out of the oven from the printers.  I learned a great deal about leadership running Xpress staff meetings and overseeing writers, photographers, and illustrators.  Watching them progress and create better and better work was incredibly rewarding.

Will you be joining any extra-curricular activities at Stanford?

I look forward to continuing old hobbies, but also trying new things at Stanford. I hope to contribute to my college newspaper, engage in community service, and conduct medical research as I have done in the past.  I also plan on getting involved in intramural sports and Greek life on campus.  Photography intrigues me and I would love to be a tour guide for prospective students through the Stanford admissions office.

What have you missed about Xavier so far?

I miss the strong sense of community that Xavier creates for its students.  I miss laughing over lunch with my community of friends.  I miss the community of teachers and administrators who were dedicated to my education and who work tirelessly to make Xavier a second home for its students.  There is no place that wants to see young women succeed more than Xavier does.  The most important aspect of the Xavier community, though, is its ability to inspire students to get involved.  One might think that all of the resources and support offered by the school would lull teenagers into complacency, but that is simply not the case.  I watched for four years as my classmates worked continually to give back and make great contributions to Xavier and to Arizona as a whole.  Luckily, although I miss its presence in my everyday life, I know that as a graduate, I will forever be a member of the Xavier community.

Describe your internship at Barrow Neurological Institute.

As a sophomore, I applied for and was awarded a three-year internship at Barrow Neurological Institute in the lab of Dr. Adrienne C. Scheck, Principal Investigator of the Neuro-Oncology and Neurosurgery Research Laboratory and Director of the Scientific Enrichment Program for Students (SEPS) program. During my internship, I had the privilege of conducting research into the ketogenic diet, a novel therapy for malignant brain tumors. After years designing my own project and collecting data focused on the effect of the ketogenic diet on growth factor pathways, I teamed up with a fellow intern, Raj Vatsa from Brophy College Preparatory, to compete in the Arizona Science and Engineering Fair.  We were very fortunate to win first place in the Medicine and Health category and move on to attend the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles in May.  Seeing the projects of the other 1,700 young scientists from 70 different countries around the world at Intel ISEF was a remarkable experience I will never forget. My partner and I were honored to earn third place in our category while competing alongside the great minds of our generation.

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