Teenager's key to success: Prepare and work hard

Published: Saturday, July 21 2012 6:00 p.m. MDT

Anisa Mughal was awarded the Youth of the Year award by The National Exchange Club. She poses for a portrait with the award at her home in Salt Lake City on Friday, July 13, 2012.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — You won't catch this teenage girl wasting time.

A 4.00 GPA, a perfect score in the math portion of her SAT, near perfect on the ACT and a No. 1 ranking in her class of 465 is just the beginning.

Her skill as a middle blocker for Skyline High School's volleyball team in East Millcreek brought interest from MIT's volleyball coach. But her qualifications in academia could have landed her there without the volleyball, if she wasn't aiming higher.

Anisa Mughal, 18, already has enough experience on her resume to make most adults scratch their heads and ask, "What am I doing with my life?"

Mughal was recently named national Youth of the Year by the National Exchange Club, the century-old organization dedicated to community service.

She was named the 2012 General Sterling Scholar for the Wasatch Front Region back in March, and found out a month later that she was one of 10 students accepted to the Univeristy of Pittsburgh's School of Medicine, a prestigious program that begins her march to a career in medicine when she enters the program as a freshman.

"I am amazed how she is able to be the best at all she chooses to do," said Jami Hutchins, Anisa's volleyball coach and counselor at Skyline in her recommendation letter.

The teenager is the daughter of a Pakistani father and a German mother. She speaks Spanish and German, and is working on learning French and Urdu, a national language of Pakistan.

Her formula for sports or academics is simple: preparation is the key to success.

"She has spent a lot of time in school. I don't think I have spent one-third as much time as when I was in school," said her father, Tariq, who has two master's degrees. "It is not like she just breezed through school. I would be wrong if i said that she was born as some sort of Einstein. That is not the case."

Her resume continues to grow, but Anisa stands out from the crowd by a desire to help other people.

Caring for others

Much of her surrounding environment has affected her decision to go into medicine. For her it is more then a desire to help people.

"If you want to help people you can do a lot of things," she said. "You can be a firefighter, you can be a social worker, you can be a professor like my dad."

As her math teacher, Adella Croft, said in her recommendation letter, Anisa was most grateful for her studies in Spanish when she was able to assist a homeless man at a local food bank in his native Spanish.

It is finding a way to combine intellect with integrity and compassion.

"Those three things are so hard to achieve together that when you do achieve them together your possibilities are endless," she said.

"With medicine a lot of people think, 'oh you're a doctor you must be way smart,' but it is more than that. It is relating to people and that is compassion and also having that integrity that allows you to serve with honesty," Croft said. "That is something that I strive for and combining those three things that make the best Anisa that I can be."

She has volunteered at the Maliheh Free Clinic as an interpreter since November 2011 along with other charity groups.

She knows that some people see her as too young and suggest she is missing her childhood by engaging in adult-size goals at a young age.

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