1 In 5,000 Students
East Coweta junior earns perfect SAT score
by Rebecca Leftwich
She’s a typical, fashion-obsessed 17-year-old in some ways, but when it comes to scholars, Yehong Zhu is a rarity.
The East Coweta High School junior joined the academic elite when she scored a perfect 2400 on the March Scholastic Aptitude Test. According to the College Board, which administers the SAT, that’s an accomplishment only one student in 5,000 can claim.
For Zhu, the quest began with two missed math questions on the October 2012 PSAT, on which she earned perfect scores in both the Critical Reading and Writing sections.
“After I worked on the math section, I was pleasantly surprised to find how much my score improved,” Zhu said, adding, “I feel blessed."
Zhu – the daughter of Qiang and Ya Zhu – has come up through the Coweta County School System, attending White Oak Elementary School and Arnall Middle School.
He brother, Grant John Zhu, currently is a student at White Oak.
“The teachers who truly care about their students motivate me to work harder,” Zhu said. “I love the teachers at East Coweta who really have passion for what they teach, because it rubs off on their students.”
ECHS Principal Evan Horton called Zhu “phenomenal.”
“Last June, I got an email from her while she was in China,” Horton said. “The email was about starting two clubs. In addition to being smart and working hard academically, she is very well-rounded. She has a group of friends that just seems to delight in her.
“A lot of hard work went into this from her,” he added. “This couldn’t happen to a better kid.”
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is Zhu’s hero.
“She is a smart, successful businesswomen who has ‘made it’ in Silicon Valley, a traditionally male environment,” she said.
However, Zhu doesn’t exactly see herself following in Mayer’s footsteps. Instead, she intends to apply for admission to “several Ivy League schools” as well as Stanford, Duke and Vanderbilt and pursue a career in law.
“I am interested in a career as an attorney because an attorney’s job is to help others solve problems,” Zhu said. “To me, this is an interesting and challenging profession. Public speaking and persuasive rhetoric appeals to me.”
Zhu is involved in many academic extracurriculars – president of the ECHS Chess Club, varsity Academic Bowl team, Beta Club, French Club, International Club, National Honor Society, National French Honor Society – and also is treasurer of the Newnan Youth Council and Webmaster of the organization’s site — www.newnanyouthcouncil.org — as well as being involved in student government.
An accomplished musician, Zhu has played violin in Centre Strings at the school system’s Centre for Performing and Visual arts for the past seven years and founded an anime (Japanese animation) club at her public library branch. She has been a volunteer swim instructor for Special Olympics and plays on East Coweta’s lacrosse team.
She currently is participating in the Newnan-Coweta Distinguished Young Women program and upcoming pageant.
“It’s a lot of fun,” she said.
But Zhu also is a regular teenager.
“I love fashion,” she said. “I devour fashion magazines; the walls of my bedroom are papered with advertisements from Vogue. Oh, and shoes! I have countless pairs of high-heeled shoes, in every color and style. I wear them with everything.
“I also enjoy watching anime, drinking coffee at Starbucks, and hanging out with my friends at Ashley Park,” Zhu added.
Her academic achievements may be uncommon, but some of Zhu’s struggles are not.
“My biggest challenge is time management,” she said. “I have to finish my work for each day before I go to bed, and there are only 24 hours in a day.”
Zhu’s best advice to other students?
“In high school the world is your oyster, and you are more than capable of living up to your potential,” she said. “The important thing is to strike a good balance between work and play. So focus on academics, but also get involved in extracurricular activities.”