Student of the Month: Hannah Fingel


Through hard work and dedication, Sandpoint High School senior Hannah Fingel has shown that dreams can be achieved. Recently named as a National Merit Scholarship finalist for 2017, Hannah has a 4.38 GPA and is recognized as one of the top students in the country.

The test that qualified Hannah for consideration of the award was the Preliminary SAT/ National Merit Scholarship Qualifying test, which she took her junior year. About 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program, 15,000 who advanced to the finalist level. As a finalist, Hannah represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors. Finalists include the highest scoring entrants in each state and are honored by the National Merit Scholarship committee as the nation’s scholastic champions. The committee’s goal is to encourage the pursuit of academic excellence.

As the co-salutatorian of the class of 2017, Hannah is a member of the math club, French club and the National Honor Society. She gives back to her community through volunteer work such as serving as a student volunteer coordinator for the Panhandle Alliance for Education gala, volunteering with Priest River Search and Rescue, and working at the Kootenai Elementary Fall Festival.

Although undecided as to where she will attend college, Hannah said Harvard has always been her dream. “That may not be attainable for me. I know that wherever I go, I’ll be happy and I’ll work hard. It will all be OK,” she said.

Her career interest is in civil or environmental engineering; fields that are driven by her love of math and her desire to create new ideas. Hannah has already experienced a taste of “college ‘life” when she attended summer college at Stanford University. While at Stanford, Hannah was enrolled in undergraduate classes and received As and A+s in all of her classes, two of which were engineering courses.

When it comes to preparing academically for college, Hannah advises others to enroll in classes that interest them.

“Don’t take classes just for the GPA boost; take them because you are interested in the subject or it will help you in college,” said Hannah. “Also, study! It makes a big difference both in the class at the time and can be applied to other classes you take later. I think it’s also important to think critically. Ask why ‘A’ is the answer instead of just accepting it, or try to think how the formula was found instead of just copying it down in your notes. Just try to really understand ideas instead of simply memorizing them.”

Hannah is grateful to her parents, Andrew and Susan Fingel, who she said are always encouraging her to do her best and have always been supportive of her academics. “Obviously they wouldn’t be disappointed if I didn’t have all As or wasn’t a National Merit Scholar, but they knew it was important to me, and they supported and encouraged me through it,” said Hannah.

She also expresses appreciation to the teachers at Sandpoint High School who have supported her on her journey. “My teachers have always been willing to answer my questions and explain things further if I asked.”

With a bright future ahead of her, Hannah is sure to succeed in whatever she sets out to do. “I just have very lofty dreams for my future, and I know I’ll have to work hard to make them happen,” said Hannah.

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