SAT? ACT? CAP's Burny nears perfectionBy Heather Murtagh
Most tests bring anxiety, but not for Capuchino High School senior Mustafa Burny - he recently earned a perfect score on his ACT exam and earned near-perfect marks on the SATs.
Burny began his summer with a sigh of relief knowing he had amazing scores on the two tests colleges used to choose incoming freshmen - the American College Test and the Scholastic Assessment Test. The rare feat doesn't really diminish the workload for the local teen, who hopes to graduate with an International Baccalaureate Diploma - a two-year preparatory process culminating in exams at the end of the school year. With the test scores squared away, Burny is facing his senior year, as well as college application time, head on.
Burny is one of 177 students nationwide to earned a perfect score on the ACT. Burny, who boasts a 4.13 grade point average, was honored for his achievement earlier this month by the San Mateo Union High School District Board of Trustees. Burny was particularly happy to note the board gave his mother, Afzalunisa, flowers.
Burny also scored 2380 out of 2400 on his SATs. The teen began preparing for the exams sophomore year. In addition, he studied and took many practice tests. He went into the last ACT testing optimistic that he would score at least 35 - 36 is a perfect score.
Burny described the two scores as "good enough" with a smile.
Burny was born in Saudia Arabia. As a child, the now sort of quiet Burny was very talkative. In fact, that's the comment he remembers from his teachers at the time. The second of four children, three boys and a girl, a 6-year old Burny moved to the United States with his family.
It started as a visit to see family. Then Burny and his parents decided to stay. Originally, the family visited New Jersey, then to San Jose. The family moved to Sunnyvale. Burny's father Ilyas is a physician. He had to start his medical education over.
The family moved around as a result of the education and training needs, in addition to the immigration regulations. Currently, Burny is still waiting to officially be a permanent citizen. He hopes it will be granted by next year.
For the last 10 years, his family has moved a number of times. Burny moved with his family from Sunnyvale to two different cities in Michigan then settling for a while in Cape Girardeau, Mo. He came to live in Millbrae for his junior year of high school.
Despite the moves, he adjusted to the change in scenery with ease making friends and keeping up with his studies.
Often people assume Burny spends all his time on studying, he said. In reality, it's hard for him to stay organized and he ends up procrastinating and admittedly does not do well under pressure.
"He can't not do his best," said Capuchino Principal Katya Villalobos. "He's a thoughtful, intelligent and diligent kid."
His dedication paid off.
He's still taking on the IB program at Capuchino. Tests through the IB program could mean college credit for students. In addition, many students attempt to achieve an IB diploma - which requires the student display a mastery in a number of topics including language, individuals and societies, mathematics and computer science, experimental sciences, the arts and a second language. Students must take tests in each subject to earn the diploma. Burny is a diploma candidate.
It's not all academics and books for Burny - who actually doesn't enjoy reading.
In Missouri, Burny joined the cross country team. Not that he's good at running, but Burny thought he might enjoy the sport.
Burny had no intention of returning to the sport after the first day until the coach said, "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Then I decided I'd stick with it," he said.
The 16-year-old ran his freshman, sophomore and now senior years. His first year he earned the most improved runner award - an accomplishment Burny holds dear.
In addition, Burny acts as a math tutor during lunch. He's active in the Students for Solidarity, Peace and Justice on campus - a group that discusses global issues.
Burny hopes to attend Stanford University next year possibly to study medicine, like his father.
Copyright ©2007 San Mateo Daily Journal. Published 10/30/2007.