A good student, 13-year-old Meg Mehta of South Barrington has a habit that used to cause her woe.
"She's gotten in trouble before for doodling," admits her mom, Tory Mehta. "In sixth grade, we got called in because she was doodling in math."
On Wednesday, Meg's mother and father, Paraag Mehta, once again got called into Barrington Middle School at Station Campus because of their daughter's doodling. This time, the smiling parents watched their 7th-grade daughter be named the state's winner in the national Doodle 4 Google competition sponsored by the giant search-engine company. Meg's winning piece of artwork was chosen from among more than 130,000 entries, and makes her one of 50 state winners winning a trip to New York City on May 22 for the announcement about whose artwork will grace Google's homepage logo. The public will determine the national finalists through online voting at google.com/doodle4google/vote.html.
"It's innovative. It's dynamic. It's where the economy is going," Congressman Peter Roskam of Wheaton said of the contest before a packed gymnasium assembly where he hailed Meg as the student who had "broken through" to win the Illinois title. Her marker-and-colored-pencil drawing, illustrating the theme of "My Best Day Ever," featured a stylized depiction of the iconic Google logo with each letter as one of her favorite things.
"My best day ever would include a day of skiing followed by a yummy dessert, a puppy (I've been dreaming of this since kindergarten), all A+ on my report card (esp. Math), a healthy earth and a good James Patterson book to read when I fall asleep. Best day ever!" Meg wrote in the description of her drawing.
"She managed to encompass a lot of things that were personal to her," said Ben Wallace, a Google product marketing manager from the corporate office in California who led the presentation alongside Hinsdale native Sam Saliba, a senior product marketing manager for Google. In addition to the art, Meg's written description "was compelling," Saliba said.
Meg says she started the project in the class of art teacher Pov Corriveau but then got busy with other things and set the drawing aside.
"I was really bored one day and I started working on it again," Meg said. "It took me a long time. I had to redo it over and over to make it really perfect."
In addition to winning a trip to New York City, Meg also will have her doodle displayed in the American Museum of Natural History.
The national winner will see his or her doodle displayed on the Google homepage on May 23 and will win a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 technology grant for his or her school.
"I just think it's wonderful that Google is going to all the schools," Barrington Middle School Principal Craig Winkelman said of Wednesday's announcements held in every state. "From an educator's perspective, it's so cool to recognize kids at their schools."
Spending her first year in Barrington Unit District 220 after her family's move from Inverness, Meg says she has had no problems fitting into her new school. Her fellow 7th-graders, many wearing Google T-shirts given to the crowd, cheered wildly when Roskam called Meg's name during the surprise assembly.
Her doodling landed her on a national stage, but Meg says she'd rather get an A-plus in math than in art. She doesn't plan on becoming an artist.
"I want to be a doctor," Meg said.