The appropriate question to ask Pope John Paul II High School senior Michelle Hasenkampf is when she finds the time to sleep.
In the last three years, Hasenkampf has taken eight Advanced Placement (AP) exams in various subjects – English language and composition; psychology; U.S. history; environmental science; English literature and composition; comparative government and politics; world history; and biology – and scored a perfect 5 on each of them.
In addition to scoring 34 on her ACT exam (where 36 is a perfect score) and 1550 on her SAT, Hasenkampf just last week was named a National Merit Scholarship Corporation Finalist, putting her in line for lucrative college scholarships.
In May, Hasenkampf will take two more AP tests in calculus and U.S. government.
Sophomore year awaits!
Depending on what university she chooses to attend, the AP testing results could allow her to receive more than 30 credit hours before she buys her first college notebook.
She would be a sophomore before she was ever a freshman.
What’s her secret to academic success?
“I try to get on things as soon as possible and not let things wait until the last minute,” Hasenkampf said. “I guess I just tell myself if I do it now, I will have more free time later, and I won’t have to worry about it.”
Hasenkampf says her favorite subject is English because “I love reading and writing.”
She attended St. Margaret Mary School and Our Lady of Lourdes School in Slidell. She was going into first grade at St. Margaret Mary in 2005 when Katrina hit.
While St. Margaret Mary made it through Katrina relatively unscathed, Our Lady of Lourdes was devastated.
In order to help out, St. Margaret Mary went to a platoon system, with its students attending classes in the morning while Our Lady of Lourdes students and other displaced students went to school on an afternoon schedule.
Hasenkampf said some of her favorite moments are when she curls up with a good book. Her mother, who is a social worker, made it a habit to take her to the public library in Slidell.
“I like it when you can learn new things and see the world from a different perspective,” Hasenkampf said. “Reading gives me more information about the world.”
Sometimes her friends at Pope John Paul kid her about being so smart, “but my friends are really smart, too,” she said.
Although Hasenkampf has not made a final decision, she probably will attend either the University of Alabama or Tulane University and major either in anthropology or psychology.
“I really like how anthropology and psychology encompass the natural sciences and the social sciences,” she said. “One of the things that has made me really consider Alabama is that they have really good scholarships and a really good honors program.”
Not to mention, a really good football team. But is she a football fan?
“Not really,” Hasenkampf said.
Faith is important
Hasenkampf has served as a Bible school camp counselor at St. Luke the Evangelist Church, a pianist for a praise and worship group and also volunteers for the St. Tammany Parish library in the summer.
“My faith affects how I view the world and how I make decisions in my life,” Hasenkampf said. “For example, it would affect how I would respond to certain situations and put that first.”
Hasenkampf is president of the PJP history club and also plays the clarinet in the school band.
She’s also got an inquisitive streak. When she was little, she took apart a music box to see what made it work.
“I just looked at the gears to see how they were turning,” she said.
“She is a student every school wishes it had,” said Lise Bremond, PJP’s assistant principal. “She is a great asset, and I know Michelle will succeed in any endeavor she pursues.”
Peter Finney Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.