Local students receive scholarships
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
One was born in eastern Kansas but started kindergarten in Hays. The other lived in another country for the first 11 years of her life.
But when Jacob Brull and Sana Cheema start their next chapter of education next fall, they will be on the same campus, at the University of Kansas.
Although taking different paths to success, that duo shares a prestigious honor for the two Hays high schools.
Brull, a senior at Thomas More Prep-Marian High School, and Cheema, set to graduate next month from Hays High School, have been honored as two of the 10 recipients of the largest scholarships awarded annually by the Dane G. Hansen Foundation in Logan.
Other area winners in the Hansen Leader of Tomorrow category -- a $6,500 award renewable for three years -- were Leif Carlson from Norton; Elizabeth House, Goodland; and Clay Schemm, Sharon Springs.
Numerous other local and area seniors also received scholarships, ranging from one-year renewable $4,000 awards to $2,000 one-time awards.
It's one of many honors in a banner senior year for Brull, a National Merit Scholarship finalist who accomplished the unthinkable.
Brull, who has a 99-plus grade-point average during his TMP career, recorded a perfect score of 240 on the PSAT test students take as juniors, a perfect 36 on his ACT and a 1,600 on the multiple choice portion of the SAT.
That 1,600 also is the top score in the multiple choice portion of the SAT; the only thing keeping Brull from a clean sweep was a still impressive 690 (of 800) on the writing portion of the SAT.
Cheema attributes a big part of her success at Hays High to consistency, after moving to the United States from her native Pakistan when she was 11 years old. Before ending up Hays, she attended three different schools.
"I moved so much, I never got the chance to be involved," she said of her first few years in America. "Being here for a while, I started reaching out to people."
Hays High has been a good fit for Cheema, who is editor of the Indian Call, the HHS yearbook, as well an active member of numerous leadership and honor clubs. She also is the only high school student in a college research class at Fort Hays State University.
"She really strove to find her niche within the school," said SueEllyn Stenger, Cheema's guidance counselor at Hays High. "It was important for her to become involved in the school and community. Two words to describe her would be persistence and perseverance."
"It took some time to get used to the move from Houston," Cheema said of her residence just prior to moving to Hays her sophomore year. "But now (Hays) feels like home. There's less to do here, but more chances to get involved with the community. I really like it."
Brull was able to get involved in his school even earlier, hitting the ground running at TMP his freshman year.
He has led the Monarch chess team to three consecutive state runner-up finishes in Class 3A and also helped the scholars bowl team qualify for state this year.
But his true love is music.
Brull has accumulated numerous state honors in piano, violin and vocal in high school and is a member of the citywide boys' choir Full Chord Press, which practices two mornings a week before school.
"What I like doing is music; what I like doing is teaching," said Brull, who has served as a mentor to younger members of various school groups.
"He is really good speaking with any age group," said Amy Miller, guidance counselor at TMP.
Not surprisingly, Brull plans to major in music education at KU "and take enough math to teach at the secondary level," too.
While Brull is following in the steps of his parents, who both graduated from KU, Cheema is too -- only in profession rather than college.
She plans to major in biology and follow "the pre-med track and apply to medical school."
"I would always see my dad coming home being happy, helping people," Cheema said of her father, Dr. Gulraiz Cheema, an orthopedic surgeon at Hays Medical Center's Orthopedic Institute. "My senior year, I got a chance to shadow doctors at (Hays Medical Center). This year, I really decided this is what I wanted to do."