Great Neck South High School valedictorian Kimberly Lu described her academic experience as a “very rich one,” where she was able to conduct research, play music and sports, and get her name on a few research papers about cancer.
“One of the projects I had been working on for this past year involved cancer resistance,” Lu, who worked with scientists at Stony Brook University to study how cells become resistant to drugs, said in an interview.
Lu, now atop a class of 312 students at South High, was involved with the school’s science research program throughout her academic career. Her work won her accolades in local contests like the Long Island Science and Engineering Fair and national ones such as the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology and Regeneron Science Talent Search.
She also served as a president of the school’s Forensic CSI Club, which she founded, the captain of the Science Olympiad Team and president of the Music Community Outreach Program.
Lu described the program as one of the favorite parts of her academic career, where she had the chance to play music at senior citizens homes and in hospitals.
Lu said she has enjoyed playing the viola, violin and piano, including during her performance in the All-Eastern Conference Honors Orchestra and other symphony orchestras.
But she also found her experience as a varsity badminton team member and its captain really rewarding, too.
“I felt like it was a time for me to really appreciate the power of teamwork and working hard toward our goals,” Lu said.
Lu said she will to return to Stony Brook University, this time as a student to study biochemistry because it would give her “a good foundation for conducting cancer research.”
And when she eventually becomes a doctor, Lu said, she wants to continue doing what she did in the music outreach program.
Weiting Hong, the salutatorian at South High School, said his love of mathematics and problem solving could be traced back to when he was a student in China.
“I think it started probably around elementary school when I was in China,” Hong said in an interview.
While Hong said his English was once “very, very broken,” he said he was always able to ask teachers for help, make friends and become involved in a range of clubs ranging from DECA Club to the Great Neck Model United Nations, which he founded.
When it came to his academic experience, Hong said, everyone shared a similar experience of completing assignments, studying hard to do well on tests and handle teachers.
“I think it’s not that much different than everybody else,” Hong said.
Hong has served as president of the Great Neck Model United Nations, math club, and the Harbingers of Peace and Equality Club, and vice president of South High’s DECA Club.
Hong has also been a member of the Science Olympiad team, varsity cross-country team, student government, Academic Outreach Club and National History Day Club.
Hong’s next step is to attend New York University, where he plans to major in business with a specialization in finance. He said he might be interested in joining a financial institution specializing in investment banking and perhaps open his own business down the line.
But for the moment, Hong said he is looking forward to the new challenges and freedom college will offer.
“Doing new things always makes me excited,” Hong said.