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MICHIGAN CITY — Julia Miller is smart. The Michigan City High School senior scored a perfect 5 on her five advanced placement tests last school year, is a National Merit Scholar and scored a perfect 36 on her ACT.

But the 18-year-old whiz kid doesn’t just test well; she’s engaged, too. Julia is president of her school’s Student Council and International Thespian Society, and is student director of the school’s coming production of “Urinetown.”

“Every year we get one or two like her,” said Mark Marz, a Michigan City chemistry and physics teacher. “But she’s special. I’ve had students that are smarter than her, but not that work as hard.”

The teen was honored for her academic achievements January at the Indiana Statehouse where she said she was inspired by several female legislators who congratulated the teen on her academic success.

Julia’s perfect ACT score puts her among the one-tenth of 1 percent of total ACT test-takers to receive a perfect 36. More than 1.9 million students took the test last year.

Julia attributes her academic success to the educators she’s encountered at Michigan City High School, and before that at St. Patrick School in Chesterton.

“I would not have such a strong view of learning if not for the educators in my life,” Julia said. “It’s been a string of really good teachers.”

For every test she takes, Julia’s mother, Nancy Miller, said her daughter comes up with a plan, for example, marking each page of her exam booklet with expected completion times.

Time management is a must for the Michigan City teen, but she still makes time to hang out with friends and help her little siblings prepare for their own upcoming exams.

“She’s a little teacher at heart,” Nancy Miller said.

However, there was a time Julia’s parents wondered if their daughter, the middle of five, would ever speak. Their daughter had seizures until she was 7 years old, her mom said, causing language setbacks.

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“She’s a true miracle,” Nancy Miller said. “She works hard, she’s always been an avid reader and researches everything.”

Julia said the experience when she was younger has shaped her work ethic today.

“I had to play catch up,” she said. “And I never want to play catch up again.”

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Today, Julia has developed a love of learning. She’s a voracious reader and plans to study chemical engineering in college.

She’s currently taking seven AP classes, including physics, calculus and psychology, among others, having taken five last year, including chemistry, biology and statistics. She’s competed in Science Olympiads since sixth grade and said she’s found her engagement as a student director to be a welcome escape from academics. Her favorite class this year is ap literature.

“Julia’s academic achievements are truly remarkable and rare,” State Sen. Mike Bohacek, R-Michiana Shores, said in a news release. “Julia’s future is bright, and I know she will be successful as she furthers her education and pursues her career goals.”

Julia has not yet decided on a college, but she said she’s eyeing Johns Hopkins and Purdue universities closely. She said she plans to study chemical engineering with hopes of getting involved in research early in her college career.

Julia said Marz was influential in her decision to study science. She’s taken three of his classes and said he helped instill her love of chemistry.

Marz described Julia as one of his most hardworking students, and deserving of her standout successes.

“When you get a student like Julia, it reinvigorates you and makes you glad you chose the teaching field,” Marz said.

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Education Reporter

Carley Lanich covers education in Lake County and throughout the Region. She comes to Northwest Indiana from Indianapolis and is an IU-Bloomington grad.