“You can do everything. You can be everything."
These enthusiastic words come from 17-year-old Marisa Ahmed, a senior at Broad Run High School.
“You don't have to choose one path,” Ahmed said. “In your lifetime, you can do so many different things. You can integrate them together, and everything can work together harmoniously.”
With several interests and options available to her, Ahmed has yet to pin down a specific career path.
Ahmed is in the top 5 percent of her class and a member the National Honor Society. Despite these accomplishments, she doesn't care about good grades simply to maintain her GPA. For her, it means she grasps a subject’s content and its relevance.
“When I come out of class, I don't want to just get that test score, the credential,” Ahmed said. “I really want to know what I'm learning and understand it, so I can apply it to other things.”
As a master flutist, a varsity volleyball player, a private algebra tutor and an award-winning artist, it's evident Ahmed understands plenty. She also tries to find inventive ways to apply what she has learned.
One of Ahmed’s most fulfilling accomplishments during high school was with the Loudoun Symphony Youth Orchestra. She spearheaded and coordinated a concert - Ensembles for Everyone - for children with special needs.
“Each day we face unique challenges that divide us, yet during the concert none of it mattered,” she said. “We were united by love for the music.
“My appreciation for music has evolved into a drive to dispel the stigma surrounding children with special needs. I see no differences, only kindred spirits who, like me, can’t help but dance to song.”
One of Ahmed’s biggest fans is Wendy Lane, her private flute teacher.
“Marisa excels at sports, academics, music and life, all achieved with her cheery smile and inviting disposition,” Lane said.
Lane also noted Ahmed’s humility and gratitude. “Several times I have witnessed Marisa thanking her mother for the opportunities she has given her,” she said.
As for college, Ahmed is still considering her options. She has been accepted to both the University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She's still waiting to hear from schools in California.
While her future academic path remains unknown, Ahmed’s high school accomplishments point to continued success - whatever road she takes.
“I just want to make a good life for myself,” she said. “I want to do everything possible now I can so that I can one day be comfortable and enjoy what I'm doing.”