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UND freshman nets ACT top score, Class B championship before choosing UND over Ivy elites

Posted on 8/22/2018

Originally published at UND Today:

Taylor Roehl can't help being modest.

Despite being one of only two UND incoming freshmen to score a perfect 36 on her high school ACT, Roehl (pronounced "rail") still feels the need to put her amazing achievement into proper context.

It happened "on my third try," she explains, as if her words make the feat something less.

On her first try, she scored a solid 35; most people would take that score and call it good.

But not Roehl. It was at that point the native of New Leipzig, N.D., and valedictorian of her 13-member Grant County High School graduating class made it a life mission to attain ACT perfection.

"I told my parents that I was going to take it as many times as I had to until I got a 36," she said.

Third time a charm

Her second attempt didn't go as well as the first despite a feeling she may have aced it. She got a 33.

That feeling was reversed on the magical third try: "I thought I bombed it," Roehl recalled.

That is until a few days later when her mother, Char, opened a letter bringing long-awaited good news.

"My mom called me at school and told me I got a 36," Roehl beamed, as if the moment had just happened. "I thought she was joking; I really thought she was lying to me."

It was no joke. The third time was the charm, and now Roehl finds herself on the UND campus, getting settled into new digs at Brannon Hall with other students in the Honors Living and Learning Community.

Roehl, a chemical engineering major on a pre-med track, will be taking honors courses, chemistry, biology, a couple of labs and calculus in her first semester at UND.

Best in class

With her perfect ACT score and 4.0 high school GPA, Roehl is the kind of quality student that UND is seeing more of each year, as UND recruiters continue to target top-level high scholarship recipients. In fact, Roehl and her incoming freshmen peers are one of the most academically prepared and qualified class in the University's history, based on collective ACT and high school GPA data.

Roehl joins fellow chemical engineering major, Carl Quandt, Annandale, Minn., as the two members of this year's incoming freshman class who've achieved perfection on the ACT. Quandt is a distance education student taking UND classes online. Both Roehl and Quandt are top-level UND Presidential Scholars. Roehl also holds a National Merit Scholarship.

According to UND Admissions, Roehl and Quandt are UND's first enrolled freshmen to ace their ACTS in recent memory. The school has admitted a couple others ACT acers over the years (they ultimately withdrew), but this year's perfect pair are the first to actually show up for first-day classes.

When exploring where to attend college, Roehl said she flirted with three East Coast schools in particular: MIT, Harvard, and Johns Hopkins University. She was accepted by all of them.

"It was a difficult decision but UND was a perfect fit," Roehl said. "UND just felt a lot more like home than any of those other schools would have and UND is the school in the state that has the most opportunities that I could make the best of."

Championship run

Roehl's long-term plans include pursuing medical school, possibly at UND, and eventually focusing on oncology or endocrinology, to assist people stricken with diabetes, an ailment that has greatly impacted her family.

Roehl is the youngest of three siblings in her household. Her oldest brother, Jordan, attended UND, while her other brother, Jamison, currently studies electrical engineering at NDSU.

She grew up in New Leipzig, a town of about 200 people halfway between Dickinson and Bismarck in southwestern North Dakota. There, her father, Kent, runs his own trucking company, while mom, Char, does the bookkeeping.

Roehl has also made a bit of a name for herself outside of the classroom, competing in volleyball, basketball and track. It was on the basketball court that Roehl experienced one of biggest highlights of her young life. Last March, she and her Grant County High School girls' basketball squad won the North Dakota Class B championship in Minot, knocking off the No.1 team in the state in the process.

From athletic championships to academic perfection, Roehl's life journey already has been that of a leader in action.

Mom and dad must be proud?

"Yeah, it sure seems like it," she says, with a chuckle. "If you'd look at my dad's Facebook account, you'd definitely think so."

-David Dodds


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