March-April 2019 | Parenting

Making Their Marks

Meet the winners of Bethesda Magazine’s 2019 Extraordinary Teen Awards

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Photo by Edgar Artiga.


Amanda Liu

Junior, Montgomery Blair High School

Like many teens, Amanda Liu started each day last summer by heading to work.

Unlike most teens, she prepped for her summer job by suiting up in a lab coat, gloves and goggles before synthesizing drugs for the treatment of muscular dystrophy.

Amanda was a paid intern at NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences Institute in Bethesda and worked in a medicinal chemistry lab. Her name will appear on a research paper about muscular dystrophy written by her mentor and others in the lab.

“It was a pretty surreal experience, seeing myself in all the gear,” says Amanda, 17, who lives in Bethesda and is now a junior in Montgomery Blair High School’s science, mathematics and computer science magnet program.

As a co-captain of the Silver Spring high school’s chemistry club, Amanda hosts weekly lectures on topics ranging from chemiluminescence to geoengineering. She received a perfect 800 on the Math Level 2 SAT test.

But she is as committed to the humanities as she is to math and science. As a freshman, she helped spearhead the revival of Silver Quest, the magnet’s long-dormant literary publication, in hopes of encouraging students to embrace creative pursuits. She is now head of production, and wants to distribute future Silver Quest issues to all public middle schools in the county to raise awareness of the magnet program at Blair, which she thinks would increase the diversity of its students. She is also a writer for Silver Chips, Blair’s school newspaper.

As a sophomore, Amanda won a $10,000 scholarship in the Junior Achievement Essay Competition, in which she argued the importance of a college education.

Adam Clay, who taught Amanda’s freshman English class, says he still talks about a narrative she wrote about something that happened to her grandmother. “She made it come alive with impressive imagery, figurative language and dialogue,” Clay says. “I was actually on the edge of my seat while reading it.”

Amanda is also a competitive swimmer with the Rockville-Montgomery Swim Club and has won state and local honors. She plans to swim in college and to pursue science research.