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Merit semifinalist thinks outside the box

Technology whiz David Masulis has taken advanced computer classes at Carnegie Mellon
by: Carole Archer, Gresham High School senior David Masulis takes computer repair classes as well as
computer programming classes and also keeps busy with operating sound and light equipment at his church. His prospective college list includes Carnegie Mellon, California Polytechnic State University and the University of Washington.

In early September, judges from the highly competitive National Merit Scholarship Program named two students from the Gresham-Barlow School District national merit semifinalists.

These two students, David Masulis from Gresham High and Daniel Koch from Barlow High, are among the 16,000 students who scored extraordinarily high marks on their PSAT tests.

Masulis and Koch are now in the running for thousands of dollars in scholarship awards, and, if included in the group of 8,200 National Merit winners, could receive a full, four-year college scholarship.

Last week, The Outlook highlighted the accomplishments of Daniel Koch in the Oct. 25 issue. This week we feature David Masulis.

David Masulis is still in high school, but he has already studied at one of this country's top universities.

The 17-year-old technology whiz went to Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, Penn., for six weeks last summer to brush up on some advanced computer courses.

'I had the opportunity to take classes in computer engineering, digital systems, advanced computer programming and data structures,' Masulis says.

The experience has put Carnegie Mellon on the top of Masulis' college list, but the Gresham High senior is also considering California Polytechnic State University and the University of Washington, where he will study computer science and computer engineering.

Wherever Masulis goes, he'll probably be accompanied by a sizeable scholarship, thanks to his PSAT scores, which were high enough to garner Masulis a prestigious National Merit Scholarship recognition.

If Masulis makes it to the finalist ranking, the National Merit program offers a slew of scholarship opportunities, including a scholarship of $2,500 a year for four years.

'I did prep for it,' Masulis says of taking the PSAT test. 'I had taken it my sophomore year and my counselor suggested that I take it again, but that I take the SAT to prepare for the PSAT.'

It was a backward approach - the PSAT is supposed to prepare students for the SAT test - but it worked for Masulis. In September, he found out that his PSAT score was high enough to rank in the National Merit Scholarship's semifinalist category.

Masulis has always been a pretty high achiever, so the National Merit recognition isn't shocking.

The only child of Karen and Paul Masulis, the 17-year-old has always had an interest in computers and technology.

He was 8 years old when he picked up his first real computer, 'an old one,' according to Masulis.

By high school, Masulis was programming for his teachers.

Last year, as part of his Information Technology in a Global Society class, Masulis created a Web site where teachers can plug in their daily homework or upcoming assignments and students can check from home to keep up with their class work.

When he's not taking computer repair or computer programming classes at Gresham High, Masulis keeps busy with his church youth group. He also does a ton of production work at his church, preferring to stay behind the scenes where the light and sound work is done.

'Between taking a full IB (advanced) course load and working at my church 13 hours a week, I'm pretty busy,' Masulis says.

Born in California, he has spent most of his life in Gresham and says his friends would describe him as 'creative, someone who thinks outside the box.'