Maurice J. McDonough High School senior Elizabeth Saoud is about to start on an Ivy League journey that almost did not happen. Captain of the McDonough Rams varsity girls’ soccer team and president of the National Honor Society and Student Government Association, Saoud’s high school career includes numerous academic and athletic achievements. Her achievements will help with her career goal of becoming either a surgeon or an anesthesiologist.
For a long time, Saoud said she thought she would attend Johns Hopkins University. “I applied to Hopkins, University of Maryland and William and Mary,” she said. However, she also dreamt of possibly going to Harvard University. “My mom convinced me to apply. She said don’t be scared to try. It was the last day before admissions were due. And I went for it,” she said.
And, Saoud is glad she did. Not only was she accepted into Harvard University, but she will play as number 26 for the Harvard women’s soccer team. At McDonough, Saoud has helped to lead her soccer team to back-to-back regional championships and the state championship. Some of her career highlights include 35 career goals and 37 assists. She also plays for the Capital Futbol Club and is a three-year letter winner for McDonough.
David Bradshaw, a physical education teacher at McDonough, is the head girls’ soccer coach. While he has only been coaching soccer for the past three school years, he said one of the best decisions he made was asking Saoud to join the team.
“Two years ago, I took over a program that had never won more than a few games in a season. The single best decision I have made thus far was encouraging Elizabeth to come out and help me change the culture of the program. She is a versatile player who has played several positions for us. She is a solid leader who sets the tone in practice and games with her high level of energy and effort. In my 26-year tenure as a teacher and coach, I have not met a more complete student athlete than Elizabeth Saoud,” Bradshaw said.
Not only is she talented on the field, Saoud is a role model in the classroom. She loves academic challenges and learning about math and science. Her passion for science drove her decision to consider a pre-medicine route and Saoud has selected Biology as her major at Harvard. She recently participated in an official visit to Harvard with her family and met other members of the women’s soccer team. “Everyone was so nice and welcoming. I met a lot of people and a teammate who is also a pre-med major. I am looking forward to being out on my own,” Saoud said.
Earlier this week, Saoud was joined by her family, classmates and teammates at a special Harvard signing day event held at McDonough. As a senior, she is taking six Advanced Placement (AP) classes and completed five additional courses her sophomore and junior years. She has already taken the accompanying exams for five classes and received a score of 5, the highest possible on an AP exam. AP testing is taking place this week and Saoud has already taken four exams. She is set to take her fifth exam on May 17.
At the start of the school year, Saoud was the top ranking senior in the McDonough Class of 2018. She served as the junior class marshal last year and plans to secure title of valedictorian this year. “I only have about a week left of classes, and unless I make some sort of huge mistake I think I will be valedictorian,” she said.
In addition to her admission to Harvard and possible rank as valedictorian of the McDonough Class of 2018, Saoud also was named a finalist in the National Merit Scholar program. The program recognizes the highest achieving high school seniors nationwide. Through the scholarship, Saoud receives $2,500 towards her studies at Harvard. She is one of only 7,500 nationwide finalists.
“I did receive some financial assistance, so this scholarship will help. I also won a scholarship through the science fair a few years ago,” Saoud said. As a freshman, she was named the grand award winner in the 2015 Charles County Science Fair and attended the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
Saoud said she has and will miss several role model teachers at McDonough, but said one of her biggest influencers was Bradshaw. “He reassured me and helped me when I needed motivation. He really stressed being positive on the field and taught me to stick with it,” she said.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,900 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.