AMANDA LIU Junior, Montgomery Blair High School
Like many teens, Amanda Liu started each day last summer by heading to work.
Unlike most teens, she prepped for her summer job by suiting up in a lab coat, gloves and
goggles before synthesizing drugs for the treatment of muscular dystrophy.
Amanda was a paid intern at NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences
Institute in Bethesda and worked in a medicinal chemistry lab. Her name will appear on a
research paper about muscular dystrophy written by her mentor and others in the lab.
“It was a pretty surreal experience, seeing myself in all the gear,” says Amanda, 17, who
lives in Bethesda and is now a junior in Montgomery Blair High School’s science, mathematics
and computer science magnet program.
As a co-captain of the Silver Spring high school’s chemistry club, Amanda hosts weekly
lectures on topics ranging from chemiluminescence to geoengineering. She received a perfect
800 on the Math Level 2 SAT test.
But she is as committed to the humanities as she is to math and science. As a freshman,
she helped spearhead the revival of Silver Quest, the magnet’s long-dormant literary publication, in hopes of encouraging students to embrace creative pursuits. She is now head of production, and wants to distribute future Silver Quest issues to all public middle schools in the
county to raise awareness of the magnet program at Blair, which she thinks would increase
the diversity of its students. She is also a writer for Silver Chips, Blair’s school newspaper.
As a sophomore, Amanda won a $10,000 scholarship in the Junior Achievement Essay
Competition, in which she argued the importance of a college education.
Adam Clay, who taught Amanda’s freshman English class, says he still talks about a narra-
After U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin
tive she wrote about something that happened to her grandmother. “She made it come alive
with impressive imagery, figurative language and dialogue,” Clay says. “I was actually on the
edge of my seat while reading it.”
Amanda is also a competitive swimmer with the Rockville-Montgomery Swim Club and has
won state and local honors. She plans to swim in college and to pursue science research.
refused to meet last spring with Devin
Lucas and other concerned teens about
the federal government’s family separation
policies at the U.S.-Mexico border, the
teens staged a peaceful protest outside
his Capitol Hill office. Devin, then a
junior at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School
in Potomac, was among five students
arrested and charged with obstructing a
“It was nerve-racking. You never know
how the police are going to react,” says
Devin, whose hands were restrained in
zip ties before she was taken away by the
U.S. Capitol Police. Captured on video by
her mother, Heather Lucas, the incident
did generate publicity—the teens’ goal—
and Devin says she’d do it again for a
cause she strongly supports. The charges
against the protesters eventually were
dropped, and Devin has since met with
Maryland legislators to share her opinions.
Devin, 18, of Bethesda, says her
political activism was first sparked by
the 2018 mass shooting at a Parkland,
Florida, high school. “I have the luxury to
feel safe going to school, but many others
don’t,” says Devin, who has joined efforts
to promote gun control, including the
2018 March for Our Lives in D.C., where
she was widely quoted in the media.
“She is a deep, independent thinker,”
“I always want activism to be part of
says Andrew Seidman, her English
teacher. “It’s one thing to talk about
issues in class. It’s another to watch a
student really put that thinking on the line
and in the real world.”
Beyond her commitment to social
justice, Devin is passionate about
the arts. A singer and actor, she has
participated in several school and
community productions, and last summer
co-founded The Free Theatre, a student-
led nonprofit focused on giving more
teens access to performing arts.
my life,” says Devin, who plans to attend
Emory University in Atlanta this fall.
“Ideally, in the future I hope to use writing
and the arts to make my voice heard. I
think film and visual arts can be incredible
mediums for activism.”
Senior, St. Andrew’s