Marella recognized as semi-finalist for U.S. Presidential Scholars program

May 24, 2016

In the dog-eats-dog world of high school academics, it is often hard to find a student with a love and passion for learning itself. The class of 2017, however, need not look any further than their number one.


From a young age, Coppell High School valedictorian Pooja Marella was the perfect student. Hard working, intelligent and well rounded, the accomplishments that detailed her application to the UT-PACT BA/MD accelerated medical program arose from passion and competitiveness.


“When Pooja was young, I bought her a Nintendo Gamecube,” Marella’s father, Purushotham Marella, said. “After a while she got bored with it, so I started playing to encourage her. Suddenly she started playing again and trying to beat me. Basically what she wanted was somebody to push her, whenever there is some competition, she thrives.”


Through the course of her life, Marella has participated and excelled in several activities in both academics and fine arts. She has learned Indian classical dance and music, piano, flute and chess. As high school progressed, she grew to love science and she worked with renowned scientists at the University of Texas at Dallas and Texas Tech University, where she published a research paper on peptide synthesis.


“I started having a passion for [medicine] my freshman year after I started volunteering at hospitals,” Marella said. “I first volunteered at a hospital just because everyone was doing it, but then I actually started to like it. So I started volunteering at other hospitals, as well, and shadowing doctors, which is how my work in medicine got started.”


Because of her perfect ACT score, Marella was nominated for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Award along with several other CHS students. After a rigorous application progress, she prevailed as semi-finalist. She still awaiting advancement to the level of finalist, which will guarantee her an all-expense-paid trip to Washington D.C. to visit the White House.


Even through all her success, Marella remains humble. She attributes all of her accomplishments in school to her work ethic and encourages future students to put in work if they strive to be as academically successful as she is.


“I know for sure that I am not the smartest person in my grade,” Marella said. “I got to where I am because of hard work and I truly believe that hard work is what determines success. It’s not all about the numbers for me. By focusing on the numbers, you’re inherently falling prey to the system.”


While she does not focus too heavily on numbers like grades and GPA, those are amongst her greatest advantages.


“As soon as ranks came out, I was so proud of [Pooja] I took her to the dealership and bought her a brand new Mustang,” Purushotham Marella said.


Long hours of work and studying were balanced out by her true passion for biology, which was fostered by her work in GT/Pre-AP Biology with Jennifer Martin during her freshman year.


“[Marella] was always really interested and passionate about science and biology,” Martin said. “She would often stay after class or come early to ask questions about subject matter; she wanted to be proud of her work. She is never going to allow herself to get an easy answer, she is going to work really hard for her patients in the future. I would want her as my doctor.”


Ultimately, CHS’s 2016-2017 valedictorian urges her peers, and younger students that will follow her, not to give up in their endeavors, academic or otherwise.


“There will be a lot of failures but what’s most important is that you endeavor to fix them and not make those mistakes again,” Marella said. “Hard work is the most important thing.”

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