Nadeera Ali is rapidly becoming known as an intellectual powerhouse with the drive and determination of a champion. The Huntington High School sophomore is a very impressive young woman. She’s currently interning with the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition and studying in Columbia University’s immersion program for exceptionally talented teenagers.
Ms. Ali’s academic schedule includes Advanced Placement World History with teacher Peter Crugnale, AP Biology with “the lovely” Deborah Beck, Honors Chemistry with Edward Florea, Honors Algebra 2 with Joann Ferazi, Latin III with Kristin Fortunato, junior symphonic band with “the one and only” Brian Stellato and science research with Lori Kenny. It’s a challenging set of classes, but the sophomore is up to it.
Huntington High School sophomore Nadeera Ali
The teenager balances an awful lot of interests and responsibilities remarkably well. In addition to the HBCAC internship and her Columbia University studies, “I am still a member of various high school clubs,” Ms. Ali said. “I most recently joined Habitat for Humanity and I am returning environmental club as its historian. I am also a member of the Key Club and student government, which are both still really fun and I believe they still will be even though they are virtual.”
The Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition is an indefatigable not for profit organization “dedicated to the ultimate eradication of breast cancer through education and awareness,” according to its website. “Our mission is to focus on prevention methods while actively helping those who are faced with a positive diagnosis.”
“I will be first learning about chronic diseases and how the environment impacts the frequency of certain diseases and illnesses,” Ms. Ali said. “I will be working with Karen Joy Miller and Melanie Gabrielle, the lovely women who coordinate the internship. For the time being it will be virtual until further notice. I am actually very excited about this internship because I will be able to work with these wonderful people hopefully throughout my high school career and I will be able to research and learn about science.”
The highly selective Columbia University immersion program runs through December 20. It prepares participants “for the college experience through exploratory coursework and community activities over ten weekends.”
“It’s a pre-college program that provides high school students with an opportunity to learn from Columbia professors,” Ms. Ali said. “I will be taking a course called ‘Medicine as a Career Choice: Thinking Like a Doctor.’ During the course I will learn logic and reasoning, evidence-based medicine, human psychology and its influence, the crossroads of media, myth and medicine, ethics, malpractice, medicine’s history and FUTUS, (which is high resolution imaging technology that supports accurate diagnoses and reduced examination time.)”
The Columbia program’s weekend format will allow Ms. Ali to stay active around Huntington High School on school days. “I will be doing this pre-college program from this past weekend to Dec. 20, so it’ll keep me busy,” she said. “Through this course I am meeting people of all high school ages from across the country and globe. Overall, I am very excited to participate in this program.”
Like all of her classmates, Ms. Ali has endured an extraordinary set of circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to classes going remote from mid-March through the end of the school year in June.
The current hybrid format, which features a mix of in-person and remote classes weekly cannot end soon enough for students and educators across the country, including Ms. Ali.
“Well it’s definitely a challenge,” said Ms. Ali about the current state of affairs. “I thought I was going to be able to just slide back in and get into my work mode right when school started. But all these months without much structure or social interaction definitely took a toll on me. Although we are back at school, we are still in a pandemic and I realized that there are limits to how much I could do within the school, so that’s why my mom and I went on hunts for different programs so I could learn and branch out, to meet new people and learn new and more advanced things.”
Ms. Ali has remained positive through it all. “My teachers have been so supportive of all students and have been so caring about our needs and have understood that we are all going through a tough time,” she said.