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Helen Badaruddin, 18

From: Missoula

Graduated: Loyola Sacred Heart High School

College: Carroll College

“Helen Badaruddin has excelled in so many ways during her years at Loyola Sacred Heart,” wrote Brian McKernan, a counselor at that school.

She didn’t just take every honors and advanced placement course her schedule would allow, finishing with a 4.37 grade point average.

Helen, the daughter of Shandor and Michelle Badaruddin, also edited the school’s newspaper and yearbook these past two years; served as co-chair of the Providence Montana Health Foundation’s junior board; led a $23,000 fundraising effort for the First Step Resources Center; been elected as secretary of both student council and Key Club; and earned 10 varsity letters in softball and soccer, along with two state championships and four team state team titles in policy debate.

And she’s already had an impact beyond Missoula. In her junior year, she realized that “I hadn’t learned a lot about my own culture” — her paternal grandfather is from India — and started looking for ways to bridge that gap. Working with her teachers, she started a pen-pal exchange program between Loyola Sacred Heart’s affiliate, St. Joseph Elementary and Middle School, and the United for Success Academy in Oakland, California.

Badaruddin explained that an English teacher at Loyola had a connection to United for Success, and that United for Success is an international school that draws students from all over the world.

While the seventh- and eighth-graders in Missoula honed their letter-writing skills, their pen pals in California “were focusing on actually learning how to write in English.” She said the program now involves about 100 students.

Other highlights of her time at Loyola Sacred Heart included competing with the Zootown All-Stars softball team, and Loyola’s speech and debate team. She plans to attend Carroll College and major in international relations, with a possible minor in French.

After that, she said, “I’d be happy doing pretty much anything in foreign relations or working in government.”

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