HUNTINGTON, Long Island (WABC) — Mia Marjano is a senior at St. Anthony’s High School, and for more than a decade, she’s had big dreams. However, she was still ecstatic when she got the call.

“After it was over, I actually screamed, although I kept my composure when I responded,” Margiano said.

Margiano is one of 40 finalists in the Regeneron Talent Search, the oldest and most prestigious scientific competition in the country.

“She is looked up to not only for the extraordinary research she has done, but also as a future scientific leader,” said Society for Science CEO Maya Ajmera.

That’s because for Marjane, battling childhood cancer isn’t just an academic obsession — when she was just seven years old, she needed a life-saving bone marrow transplant from leukemia.

“When people get horrible diseases, you always try to find an explanation for why, right? I think she has a mission in life,” Margiana’s mother, Michelle Ricourte, said.

The mission became another battle with childhood neuroblastoma – because when Marjana spent two months at the Ronald McDonald House, she met a very special friend.

“We had a night out, we watched movies, and unfortunately, a year after I met her, she passed away,” Margiano said, “so I discovered this genetic component and linked it to a process that may be associated with better survival in neuroblastoma “.

Her counselors at St. Anthony’s are also thrilled because she is the first from their school to make it this far.

“I entered my first student in this competition in 1982, and she is the best of the best,” said St. Anthony’s director of research Paul Paino.

In the fall, she was already accepted to the University of Pennsylvania.

In March, Margiano will travel to Washington, D.C., where he will compete against the other Regeneron finalists. She’s already won $25,000 just for making it this far. The first prize in the competition is a quarter of a million dollars.

READ ALSO | Woman pleads guilty to stealing cousin’s $1 million New York State Lottery jackpot

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