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Teen Achiever Named ‘All-American Girl’

March 16, 1988

NEW YORK (AP) _ A 16-year-old science whiz has been named ″All-American Girl of the Year″ in a contest co-sponsored by ’Teen Magazine.

″I have this permanent smile on my face,″ Charlene Brown, a student at Stuyvesant High School, said after she was chosen from among five finalists.

Miss Brown said the ’80s definition of an all-American girl is ″somebody who tries her best and strives to do something out of the ordinary. It’s somebody who likes to do things that are different, who takes chances with things that don’t necessarily guarantee success.″

The other finalists were composer Sherry Lynn Biedrzycki, 12, of St. Francis, Wis.; astronomer-pilot Jennifer Lynn Patience, 17, of Thousand Oaks, Calif.; athlete Tamara Ann Shepherd, 17, of Eagle River, Alaska; and pianist Jennifer Watson, 14, of Bountiful, Ohio.

Miss Brown previously won a ″Future Biochemist’s Award″ for her performance in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s introductory engineering and science program.

She was summer program director for the Junior Academy of Sciences in 1987 and a judge for the American Institute of Science and Technology Science Fair.

″I try to give my all to everything I’m involved in,″ she said. ″That requires a lot of time management, being able to establish priorities.″

Her father, Franklin, an accountant, and her mother, Pauline, a nurse, are immigrants from Jamaica. Her sister, Shanna, is 9.

At home, she was ″encouraged to do my best from very early on. And at my school, everybody works hard. Everybody is motivated, striving to reach for the top. That kind of atmosphere encourages you to work even harder,″ she said.

The prize is a $5,000 scholarship, which she will use next fall at MIT, studying chemical engineering before going on to medical school.

″A lot of teen-agers are classified - because of drinking and driving, pregnancies and crime - as awful and violent,″ said Miss Brown. ″But plenty of teen-agers are not even recognized for accomplishments.″

Now, Miss Brown will be a role model. ″I can handle it,″ she said. ″It’s great.″

Noxzema Skin Cream was the other sponsor of the event.