Well-rounded student may be a too-simple and timeworn accolade, but it is the most direct way of describing Dee Luo, a senior at Brookfield Central.
Luo has blended academic excellence and leadership qualities to become a candidate for the 2012 Presidential Scholars Program.
The program looks at 3.2 million students expected to graduate from U.S. high schools, selects 3,000 for their exceptional performance on either the SAT or ACT as well as excellent character as defined in artistic and leadership qualities. Eventually, two students from each state are selected in May from a pool of 3,000.
Luo has been selected for consideration among just 10 Wisconsin seniors and their counterparts across the nation.
"I am very honored to be considered," Luo said. "I have been very fortunate to belong to a school district that has given me the opportunities to do so well academically and to participate in a variety of activities."
Academics and leadership
Luo scored a composite 35 on her ACT. She also has scored as a leader in a broad range of activities.
She is co-president of the school's Key Club, an organization that connects with the community through Kiwanis International. She is co-editor of the Tyro, the school newspaper, and after actively competing in swimming, she is captain of the Central Girls Swim Team.
Oh yes, she also has performed on piano and strings at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.
Luo credits all of her teachers, coaches and advisers for her success, but particularly pointed out her chemistry teacher, Louise Thompson, Tyro adviser Jill Cook and Key Club adviser Ronn Blaha.
"They have all helped me grow and appreciate the work I have done," Luo said.
The school appreciates her right back.
"Dee obviously is an exceptional student," said Elyce Moscella, foreign language teacher involved in the AP curriculum. "She has accomplished a lot, which is typical of a lot of our students. We are proud."
Central Principal Don LaBonte added, "Anytime a student advances in this type of recognition it is positive reflection on the entire school.
Presidential Scholars are not a foreign concept to either Central or sister school East.
For the last two years, Central has had two Presidential Scholars - Bryan Dongre in 2010 and Haley Adams in 2011.
This year, East candidates include Aditya Triveki, Advik Shreekumar and Chang Ge.
Luo has not had much time to think about whether she will become the third Presidential Scholar in a row for Central. She spent the last week visiting Princeton and Columbia Universities, the two schools she has narrowed down on her list of where to continue her education.
"They were both great and I need to make a decision within the week," Luo said. She said her impressions were that Princeton had impressive programs and Columbia offered immediate access to New York City.
"I want to study business," she said, noting that her sister, Sally, is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania. "I'm not as interested in finance, but in working with nonprofits, maybe working on issues that affect other countries."
Luo quickly thought that sounded "trite." For such success at an early age, many may think that nothing in her life will be ordinary.
Competition: 3,000 first-round scholars
Judges: 32 eminent citizens selected by the President
Reward: Presidential Scholar Medallion at June recognition ceremony in Washington, D.C.
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