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Bianca Quintanilla is a gopher, a grammar fiend and a former state champion.

The junior at Harlingen High School South won first place in 2011 at the University Interscholastic League (UIL) state academic meet in spelling. This past spring, she placed fifth, earning another medal, but falling short of her expectations.

“I didn’t feel any pressure, other than my own expectations,” Quintanilla said. “The level of words was more challenging than the previous year.”

Quintanilla competes in spelling because she likes to learn new words, she said. She enjoys memorizing and learning about word origins.

“My favorite part about UIL academic competitions is learning new words,” she said. “My goal is to finish first again and to score a 100, which is a perfect paper.”

In UIL spelling competitions, students are given 15 words to match with definitions and 15 proofreading questions, she said. Winners at the state meet usually score between 95 and 98, so a perfect score would be extra special.

An avid philanthropist, she enjoys volunteering at Valley Baptist Medical Center, where she works at the front desk, she said.

“I’m pretty much a gopher,” she said. “I deliver flowers and operate the newspaper cart. People are always pleased when they receive flowers.”

Quintanilla thinks students should get involved with volunteering because it provides a new perspective, she said.

As for another new experience, Quintanilla will be traveling to Stanford University this summer for a youth leadership conference, she said. She hopes to get a good look at the college along the way during her first visit to California.

“I’m really excited to see a different part of the country and to see the campus,” she said.

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