Lucy Chenfreshman prodigy

Freshman Lucy Chen has a curriculum harder than that of most sophomores, and perhaps even most juniors. She is taking four AP classes: AP Biology, AP US History, AP Physics, and AP Calculus, along with Chinese 304 at ISU and English 9, her only “normal” class. Chen likes the challenge of these advanced classes, and is handling them well. “I simply work hard and do my homework,” Chen said. “Actually, my biggest challenge was ninth grade speech class last semester. Now, Chinese is my hardest class because of all the homework.” This is Chen’s first year as a full-time student at Ames High School, but she has been familiar with taking classes here for quite a while. When she was in fifth grade, she took her first high school course, Algebra I. “It was intimidating at first,” recalls Chen. “All the freshmen were so big!” Chen remembers that the teacher was really nice and accepting, but her classmates were naturally surprised by the “midget” in the class. After awhile, Chen stopped being intimidated, but she still did not feel like she fit in. Now she is comfortable with taking classes with people who are years older than her, and has become friends with many of them. “Sometimes I don’t like being smart,” admits Chen. “People can be mean about it, especially when you set the curve for a test or something like that. You can get a lot of flak for being smart.” Her advice for people is not to be afraid of doing well or wanting to. “I need to follow that advice too,” said Chen. “At times I’m ashamed of being smart, but then I get ashamed of being ashamed.” Although Chen is only a freshman, she already has many academic accomplishments. When she was only in sixth grade, Chen took the SAT and got a 780 in Math. In both years of middle school, she qualified for the MathCounts National Competition, placing an impressive 16th out of over 200 competitors in seventh grade and 25th in eighth grade. Last year, when she was in eighth grade, she also qualified for the USAMO, a prestigious nationwide math exam. Finally, this year she placed 12th on the Drake Physics Exam, a feat that few first-year physics students have accomplished. Chen believes her success is due to persistence, not only natural talent. She says that once she starts something, she never quits. “My goal is not to get perfects on math competitions and stuff,” said Chen. “Instead, I want to improve. I make sure that I understand the problems that I miss so I don’t make those mistakes again.” In her free time, Chen enjoys reading fantasy and adventure books, listening to music, and drawing. She likes to draw both anime and realistic sketches. She also enjoys playing piano, which she has been doing since she was five. In addition, Chen participated in Tae Kwon Do for several years, making it to a brown belt before stopping in eighth grade because she got too busy. As for now, Chen has not thought much about what she wants to do after high school. She doesn’t really know what she’s interested it, but she knows she wants to have a career in which she can help unfortunate people. She is already doing some of that now, as a member of the Ames High club SHEPH (Students Helping Eliminate Poverty and Hunger). Chen is concentrating more on the present – focusing on doing her best in school. She is well on her way to becoming an academic legend at Ames High.