National Merit Finalist not bound by pronouns

National Merit Finalist not bound by pronouns

Cassidy Reed, SPN Junior Editor-in-Chief

*Disclaimer: Amanda asked for gender-neutral terms to be used.


Amanda Dewiel is Bixby’s National Merit Scholarship finalist. The National Merit Scholarship is a scholarship given to students nationally for exceptional PSAT test scores, a credible academic record, high SAT scores, and extracurricular activities. Scholarship recipients typically, are students that study extremely hard.

Not Amanda.

Dewiel “tends to waste a lot of time on the Internet,” as said in an interview. Amanda admits feeling bad for all of the awards and recognition received because Amanda considers themselves to have always been exceptionally intelligent. They, in fact, consider their smarts their best quality.

Amanda, despite their aptitude for academics, plans to pursue a career in animation or graphic design.

Intelligence seems to run in the family, seeing as Dewiel’s brother is a bit of a genius himself. Unlike Amanda, Amanda’s brother had a rough time in school due to his condition — Asperger’s Syndrome. Amanda too suffers, but has a less severe case. Asperger’s affects development of skills, most notably social and communication skills, making it a viable reason to struggle in school despite academic intelligence. People with Asperger’s Syndrome may come across as odd socially, but are usually beyond talented in one area, like music or math. Amanda’s brother cannot drive and struggled with anger, while Amanda hyper-focuses on things, can come across as blunt, and does not recognize social cues, like people without Asperger’s do.

Amanda considers themself agender or genderless, and Amanda doesn’t think their Asperger’s and genderless position are, in any way, related. Amanda also suffers from depression and used to suffer from anxiety, but has recently gotten that under control. Amanda feels that not everyone supports the choice to identify as agender. This is the first time, publicly, that they have asked to be referred to in gender neutral terms.

Amanda is close with their brother, and as kids, would watch anime together. He would read Amanda the subtitles before they could read. Amanda still loves cartoons, in general, to this day.

Amanda’s father is supportive, but not as aware of what Amanda is accomplishing academically because he knows how smart Amanda is and does not worry too much about them. He is proud of Amanda, but is more out of the loop, due to being busy with work.

Amanda’s mother once struggled with cancer, yet went through school, and now has a job in the medical field. Conquering obstacles seems to also run in the family.

Amanda, at one point had over 2,000 emails in their inbox from colleges wanting Dewiel on their campus as a student. Amanda is making personal dreams come true, and the National Merit Scholarship just made their path a little more roomy.