Thomas York received a high score on his ACT right out of the gate: 34. But the 2021 Lourdes High School graduate knew he could do better. He took the test again, receiving the same score. On his third try, he nailed it: a 36 -- the best ACT score possible.

The scores for the college-preparedness test range from 1 to 36. According to ACT, the average composite score in Minnesota for 2020 was 21.3. The national composite score for the same year was 20.6. According to a news release from the testing organization, fewer than 6,000 students out of the 1.67 million who took the test in 2020 received a perfect score.

An article from U.S. News and World Report said 34 was the average ACT Composite score for elite schools such as Harvard, Princeton and Yale.

"Part of it was just proving to myself that I could get a 36," York said about taking the test more than once to achieve the best outcome. He went on to explain how he landed on his college decision. "For me, the whole process was best school, best scholarship."

This fall, York will be headed to the University of Alabama where he will be studying pre-med. In addition to receiving a full-ride, he's also one of 40 incoming freshmen accepted into the Randall Research Scholars Program, according to his father, Michael York.

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In a lot of ways, York was a stand-out student and athlete way before he ever sat down to take his ACT test. He was a National Merit Scholar; he took 16th place in the Scripps National Spelling Bee; he received the MSHSL Certificate of Recognition for Academics, Arts and Athletics; and he has a whole fistful of varsity letters in football, baseball, hockey and choir.

He hasn't decided what area of medicine he wants to specialize in, but he has an interest in cardiology. He may end up practicing cardiology, but he's also interested in getting into cardiology research.

Part of the reason he decided to pursue medicine in the first place is because of its deep roots in his family. His mom is a doctor, as is his uncle.

"I've had a lot of medical influences in my life just from my family and obviously living in the Med City," York said. "My grandpa was a doctor back in the Philippines, and then he came to the United States -- my grandma tells me -- with only 200 bucks."

He's also seen the impact those in the medical field can have on lives. That's something he would like to carry forward.

"Seeing health crises within my own family, I've been able to see what difference good doctors can make," York said. "And I really want to be that difference for someone else."