The student: Mary Kate Nugent, 18
School: Mount de Sales Academy
Special achievement: Chosen as a National Merit Scholarship finalist.
What she says about it: "I nearly died of shock because I didn't expect to make it that far. It was a nice surprise, and I'm very happy about it."
What motivates her: "I am trying to do better in a little competition with myself. I like a challenge, and if things are too easy it's dull. Reading has always been important to me. If I hadn't read so much and such varied books, I wouldn't know half as much as I do."