HUNTINGTON, Long Island (WABC) -- Miah Margiano is a senior at St. Anthony's High School, and she has had big dreams for more than a decade. However, she was still ecstatic when she got the phone call.
"I basically screamed after it ended, although I held my composure together when I answered," Margiano said.
Margiano is one of 40 finalists in the Regeneron Talent Search - the oldest and most prestigious science competition in the nation.
"She is not only being looked at for her extraordinary research she has done, but she is also being looked at as a future scientific leader," said Society for Science CEO Maya Ajmera.
It is because, for Margiano, fighting pediatric cancer is not just an academic obsession - when she was only seven, she needed a life-saving bone marrow transplant for leukemia.
"When people come down with horrible illnesses, you always try to have an explanation of why, right? I think she has a mission in life," said Margiano's mother, Michelle Ricurte.
The mission became another fight against pediatric neuroblastoma - because when Margiano spent two months living at the Ronald McDonald House, she met a very special friend.
"We would have sleepovers, watch movies, and unfortunately a year after I met her, she passed away," Margiano said, "so I discovered this genetic component and linked it to the process that may be associated with better neuroblastoma survival."
Her advisors at St. Anthony's are also delighted, because she is the first from their school to make it this far.
"I out my first student into this contest in 1982, and she is the best of the best," said St. Anthony's Science Research Director Paul Paino.
She has already been accepted to the University of Pennsylvania in the fall.
Margiano will head down to Washington D.C. in March where she is competing against the other Regeneron finalists. Already, she has won $25,000 for just making it this far. The first prize in the contest is a quarter of a million dollars.