The Arsenal Technical High School senior will graduate Summa Cum Laude and double major in neuroscience and chemistry at IU Bloomington


Mya Pomales has always set goals, but there are things high on her achievement list that she classifies as double goals (what she calls a “goal-goal”).

On June 14, Mya will accomplish one of those double goals when she graduates with a 4.07 GPA from Arsenal Technical High School and Summa Cum Laude academic honors.

She’s one of several 2019 IPS grads the district is honoring as summa, magna and cum laude scholars for achieving a 3.5 to 4.0 or higher GPA. Beginning with the 2018-19 school year, the district switched from celebrating the valedictorian and salutatorian of each high school to the Latin honors system.

“Me getting a 4.0 was a goal-goal; me becoming valedictorian was just a goal,” said Mya, adding that being No. 1 of her graduating class would have been nice, but she’s OK not securing that title because she’s involved in so many things at school.

Mya is a member of Model United Nations, the Arsenal Tech track and field team (she runs both 400 and 800 meters) and Upward Bound. In addition, Mya is secretary of the Student Council, a Future Center Student Ambassador, and she has participated in Battle of the Books. She also worked as a clothing store manager for a while.

How has she managed it all? “I tried keeping a calendar because it helps relieve my brain, but I just do it as it comes.” In other words, she takes it day by day.

Her schedule isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

From June 9 through July 26, she will participate in the summer Groups Scholars Program (also called Groups) at Indiana University Bloomington, where she will be a freshman in the fall. Mya will also have to travel back to Indianapolis for the day to participate in her high school graduation from Arsenal Tech on June 14.

She’s so excited about the work she’ll be doing this summer at IU — which includes lots of research — that the back and forth from Indy to Bloomington and back again isn’t causing stress.

When fall classes begin at IU on August 26, Mya will double major in neuroscience and chemistry.

“I’ve been wanting to major in neuroscience or something related to the brain since I was in middle school, because I find the nervous system a very interesting organ system. It was my favorite thing to learn about in biology,” said Mya.

The 17-year-old Math & Science program student said she’s always been fascinated by the nervous system. “I don’t know, I’ve always seen myself answering questions about (it) on ‘Jeopardy,’” she said, laughing. “It’s just awesome.”

But there’s a serious reason why she wants to study neuroscience. Her older brother Malik has autism and Mya wants to learn more about the brain to be able to connect better with him and others on the autism spectrum.

“(Malik) would be classified as on the severe side of the spectrum. So, he needs assistance,” said Mya. “I don’t know why, but I would always worry about where he would go in the future. My mom says residency programs, but as I grew older I found out that some programs don’t even treat old people right.”

Protecting her brother is a top priority.

“Over the years, I was always watching from the sidelines as my mom took care of him. Sometimes I would have to babysit him,” said Mya, who plans to become a psychiatrist or neuroscientist. “He’s not very verbal. He’s in his own dimension, and that’s what I like about him. He’s different, but it’s a world that I don’t understand and that I want to understand. Like, ‘How do I communicate with you?’ There are times when he’s frustrated and he wants something. I’ll follow him and he’ll point, and then it’s not what he wants.”

Malik intrigues Mya. “I want to understand the world that he falls in, and there are other people who fall into that same world. I just want to be part of that world.”