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Gulnar Mirza selected as Merrill Presidential Scholar

Monday, April 25, 2016

Gulnar Mirza, an accomplished ECE senior minoring in computer science, has been named a Merrill Presidential Scholar – one of the highest honors for undergraduates at Cornell.

“Finding out that I was selected as a Merrill Scholar was one of the most exciting moments of my four years at Cornell,” said Mirza. “At first I was in disbelief since I knew this award was given to a very small amount of graduating seniors.”

Merrill Scholars rank among the top one percent of the class in their respective colleges and only 35 students are chosen each year. The program also recognizing the teachers who have played a significant role in ensuring their success. Each scholar is given an opportunity to recognize the high school teacher who most inspired his or her scholastic development and the Cornell faculty member who most significantly contributed to his or her college experience.

Mirza, a graduate of Mayo High School in Rochester, Minn., is recognizing her mathematics teacher Vince Wagner, who she says helped her succeed in his AP statistics class. “Mr. Wagner always welcomed and encouraged his students to ask questions, and this helped me gain confidence in my ability to take on technical classes,” said Mirza. “Overall, he was one of the most outstanding and dedicated teachers I have met, and I am very grateful to have been one of his students.”

Mirza is also recognizing José Martínez, ECE associate professor, who has been her faculty advisor throughout her time at Cornell. “From the beginning, he has always been very supportive and helpful to me in terms of encouraging me to take advantage of the opportunities available to undergraduate ECE students, such as the ECE Early Career Research Scholar program, in which I worked on a small project on multi-core processors under his direction,” said Mirza.

With a cumulative GPA of over 4.0 and Dean’s List honors all eight semesters, Mirza has also been inducted into the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, the Eta Kappa Nu Electrical and Computer Engineering Honor Society, and was named a 2012 National Merit Scholar. She has also served in leadership positions within the Society of Women Engineers and as an after-school tutor for disadvantaged teens at the Ithaca Youth Bureau.

Each spring, the Merrill Scholars, along with their high school teachers and Cornell professors, are honored at a convocation hosted by Cornell’s president.

“I feel extremely honored and grateful to have received such a prestigious award. I have had a lot of tremendous teachers over the years, and I would not have been able to achieve this without their dedication to helping students succeed,” said Mirza, who plans to pursue her master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering at Cornell.

More information: http://www.alumni.cornell.edu/merrill

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