September 15, 2022
The sky is literally the limit for Eva Koczur.
On Sept. 15, the Fairview High School senior was named a National Merit Semifinalist by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. According to their website, only 16,000 out of 1.5 million students nationwide who take the PSAT/NMSQT standardized test qualify for such recognition.
“I’m very excited,” Koczur said of her accomplishment. “I kind of set this goal for myself pretty early, that I really wanted to do it. I didn’t rigorously prep for it, but I definitely prepped for it and prepared.”
Students can take practice PSAT tests starting as early as their ninth grade year at FHS. Then, during their junior year, students take the test, with their results counting towards the National Merit Scholarship program.
How Koczur prepared for the standardized test, however, might be surprising.
“My biggest resource was actually TikTok,” Koczur said. “Different people would post the most challenging problems and how to solve them. They were 15-second videos, where I was able to get a lot of exposure to different types of problems and learn little shortcuts and tricks - timing is the biggest issue on the test.”
Koczur’s academic and extracurricular schedule is impressive. This semester, she enrolled in four Advanced Placement classes, including AP World History, AP Calculus BC, AP Literature and Composition, AP Biology, and Advanced Principles of Engineering.
The list of her extracurricular activities is also extensive, with student council, National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society, Key Club, varsity soccer, cross country, and track all in the mix. She also has a love of painting and art and somehow manages to work a part-time job.
However, engineering is truly her passion. After designing a new type of wheel for rovers as part of her AP Capstone project last spring at FHS, Koczur was selected as an intern at the NASA Glenn Research Center. She helps design rover wheels, including those for the Mars helicopter.
“It’s given me some really invaluable exposure just to the field of engineering,” Koczur added. “They have me on teams working with real engineers, getting to do experiments and testing. I’ve gotten to visit different facilities. Every day I do something new - it’s just crazy that I’m there to experience it.”
The four-year engineering program offered at FHS helped take Koczur to new heights at NASA and her career goals.
“It’s really helped me in my internship at NASA because I’ve learned a lot of skills that I get to use,” Koczur said. “3-D modeling, 3-D printing, different circuitry stuff, coding too - there are so many things that I’ve applied from that engineering course here to the internship.”
“There is no question that Eva is intelligent and hardworking, but the characteristic that has stood out to me the most is her drive,” Heather Delis, a Polaris Career Center engineering teacher at FHS explained. “Her drive goes beyond wanting to earn a good grade. Eva is driven to know the ‘why’ and is never content just memorizing facts. Eva has a bright future ahead, and I can't wait to see all of her accomplishments.”
Not surprisingly, Koczur wants to major in engineering and is currently looking at Penn State, Ohio State, and Purdue University to continue her education. Her advice to younger students is to tailor their education to what works best for them.
“Learn how best you function,” Koczur said. “I know how I take notes the best. I even study the best with quick TikTok videos. Tailor your academic experience to yourself.”