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West Valley student bypassing high school

While most eighth-grade students are anticipating the transition from middle school to high school, West Valley Middle School graduate Sneha Bhat will bypass her high school experience in order to attend college in the fall.

Sneha, 14, is currently enrolled at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va., and has been accepted into PEG, which stands for the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted.

With the hope of becoming a neurological surgeon, in about 10 to 12 years, Sneha will be taking pre-med courses in the fall.

“Going to college will be somewhat bittersweet because I will be missing out on four very important years in a teenager’s life,” Sneha said.

“I am ready though and very excited.”

Although her friends will miss her, Sneha said that they have all been “very supportive” of her decision.

Having lived in Knoxville for most of her life with her parents Vanita and Gajanan, and brother Sunay, Sneha attended Bluegrass Elementary School and West Valley Middle School.

She has had a 4.0 grade point average throughout her elementary school career.

Sneha has garnered numerous academic awards, received a 1310 on the SAT test and a perfect score on the ACT explorer test taken in the seventh grade.

She has also been a competitive swimmer, won poetry and writing contests and volunteered at various organizations such as the Empty Stocking Fund and the Hindu Cultural Center.

Mary Baldwin College is a girl’s school with an enrollment of approximately 1,000 students.

The PEG program offers an opportunity for bright and accomplished young women to complete college during their high school years while living in a fully-supervised residence hall.

The program began in 1985, and currently has more than 70 students from all over the country. Most students go on to graduate school upon completion of their undergraduate work. Sneha has received a scholarship from the college for approximately one-half of the tuition.

Although life has been very busy for Sneha, she has also managed to find time to enjoy music, attend middle school dances and occasionally baby-sit for her eight-year-old brother.

Vanita said that she and Sneha’s father are very proud of their daughter.

“I plan on making every moment count with Sneha this summer,” She said. “I am very excited for my daughter, but will miss her very much.”

Little brother Sunay agreed with his mother. Even though this isn’t the traditional path for a young girl, the Bhat family feels that this is the right decision for Sneha.

“She has always been mature for her age, especially in academics,” Vanita said. “She is a very bright young woman, and has a promising future ahead of her.”


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