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EPISD Student Spotlight: Marium Zahra, Young Women's STEAM Prep

Marium Zahra

(YOUNG WOMEN’S STEAM RESEARCH & PREPARATORY ACADEMY -- April 5, 2021) — Spring time is bee time for Young Women’s Academy seventh-grader Marium Zahra. No, not just because the little flying insects are out pollinating flowers during this time. Marium, this year’s El Paso Regional Spelling Bee champion, is hard at work prepping for the upcoming Scrips National Spelling Bee, which this year will be modified to only allow 10 spots for the live telecast because of the pandemic. An outstanding all-around student, Marium, has a propensity for words. Not only did she emerge champion this year in the English bee, but she also won last year’s EPISD Spanish Spelling Bee. She is the subject of this edition of the EPISD Student Spotlight.

EPISD: How did it feel to win the El Paso Regional Bee? 

MARIUM ZAHRA: It was really exhilarating, and I felt very accomplished. I felt proud because the last week was hard with all the studying I did. It is a great opportunity to represent El Paso at the National level.  

EPISD: How did you prepare for the El Paso Regional Spelling Bee?

MZ: I prepared with my mom using expert pronunciations. I started studying a week before the school spelling bee after I won out of school. It was hard to study 4,000 words in one week, but I felt extremely determined to win, so I put in all the work. It paid off!

EPISD: You have a propensity for spelling. Tell us about this and how it helped you win last year's Spanish Spelling Bee. 

MZ: I have always had a good memory and have always been very interested in language. That is perhaps why Spanish is my fourth language after English, Punjabi and Urdu. I was really determined in winning the Spanish Spelling Bee last year because I started participating in fourth grade and got third place at my school. In fifth grade, I managed to place second at the district competition. I just wanted to take it all the way. The same for English, I placed second in my school in fifth grade, and in sixth grade again. So, this year, I had to win. 

EPISD: What other activities do you excel at in school? 

MZ: I won first place in the city Science Fair in Behavioral and Social Sciences, allowing me to move on to the State Science Fair two times consecutively. I also won third place sweepstakes in the entire Life Sciences category and the Air Force Award for Outstanding Project in Science.  I was a Society for Science’s Broadcom Master nominee.  

I have placed in Destination Imagination, won the Digital Film Festival and advanced in the “Take Care of Texas” Video Contest.  

I placed 2nd in the National History Day Contest and advanced to state. I am published in the “Celebrating Art Journal” for my artwork. I also have poems published on the “Poetic Power” and “Lucky Jefferson” websites.  

I also advanced to the National Spanish Spelling Bee.  

I have placed first place in my club volleyball team. I am Student Council president and am applying for NJHS. I also am on the A honor roll, and I am taking college Spanish and many more high school and Pre-AP classes.  

EPISD: What do you do for fun – especially during COVID? 

MZ: My family and I play chess tournaments to keep our brains working. I have gotten extremely good at chess and have won almost every single game.  I have been playing a lot of volleyball. I enjoy cooking meals for my family. I am now great at making pizza and brownies.  

EPISD: What have you done to keep motivated during quarantine? 

MZ: I feel I am a very competitive soul and competing always makes me feel amazing. I have entered many scholarship contests that have yet to announce. My family has always excelled at everything, so seeing my sisters always gives me motivation.

EPISD: What do you want to do as soon as the pandemic is over? 

MZ: I would love to go play almost all the sports and go play for my club volleyball team. I would love to be able to just go out and have fun. 

EPISD: What do aspire to be when you grow up and do you know what college you want to attend? 

MZ: I would like to attend an Ivy League or prestigious university. I am not sure what I will be when I grow up, but I am drawn to business and maybe real estate.  

EPISD: Anything else you'd like to add? 

MZ: I am super grateful to my family for everything they have done in my life. I hope to make them and all of El Paso proud.



Interview by Reneé de Santos
Photo by Leonel Monroy