Each week, The Naperville Sun introduces an outstanding student from an area high school for the community to get to know. This week we talk with Naperville Central senior Emily Zhen.
What are your post-high school plans?
After high school, I will attend the University of Pennsylvania and study biology and business in the Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management (LSM). LSM is a special dual-degree program that allows me to explore my passions in business and science while earning two Bachelors degrees: one in Economics and the other in a science major of my choice.
My long-term goal after college is to manage or start my own healthcare of biotechnology company, focusing on delivering more personalized and effective treatment to patients, developing stronger medical devices, and serving financially unstable families and communities. Currently, my friend Rahul and I are developing our own start-up company, Park Pass (an iPass model for parking garages), to make the parking payment process more convenient and efficient. This hectic, crazy, and challenging experience has psyched me up about entrepreneurship and technology, so I definitely want to continue to own and grow my own business in college and beyond as well.
What do you like to do on the weekends?
I typically spend my weekends competing at speech tournaments or business competitions, hanging out with my family and friends, swimming at the YMCA, and teaching piano to some of the most adorable kids on the planet. I also love to volunteer as a teacher’s assistant for Dr. Rubin’s Mini-Medical School—it’s amazing how much I’ve learned in the process of teaching other students about medical procedures.
What is your favorite subject? Favorite teacher?
My favorite subject is probably science, especially AP Chemistry last year. Our labs have included everything from creating metal plates to setting things on fire (safely, I promise!) AP Economics is another one of my favorites—thanks to my teacher Mrs. Barbino, I have a much better grasp on the current state of our economy, what caused the 2008 economic recession and why the Fed kept interest rates so low following this downturn.
It’s honestly hard to name a favorite teacher because I have had so many influential teachers at Naperville Central. Instead of naming one favorite teacher (which I can’t do), I’ll list the teachers who had a significant impact on me. I want to thank Mrs. Plackett for her compassion and kindness, Ms. Thompson for her energy and conversational nature, Mr. Wiesbrook for inspiring my love for chemistry, Mrs. Barbino for never failing to make me laugh in class, Ms. Free for her support and encouragement, Mr. Carlson for being the best newspaper advisor I could ask for and Mr. Braun for making Calculus understandable and fun.
What is your favorite social media?
My friends keep telling me that “no one uses Facebook anymore,” but honestly, Facebook is my favorite form of social media. On Facebook, I can post pictures, share updates about the big moments in my life, stay in-tune with my friends’ lives, collaborate with classmates and friends on projects and club activities and meet future college classmates. I’m also obsessed with the movie The Social Network and the story of how Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook. My love for Twitter and 140-character updates is beginning to grow, but for now, Facebook is still my favorite.
What is one thing someone wouldn’t expect to know about you?
In my free time, I love to sing while playing the piano or guitar and record musical covers. I’ve recorded two songs at my friend’s recording studio and had a blast just jamming out. When I was younger, I actually wanted to be the Asian version of Taylor Swift, replacing her guitar accompaniment with my piano playing.
What is your favorite sports team?
The Chicago Bulls! Since I was young, I’ve followed NBA games with my older brother and dad. My brother and I used to watch almost every single Bulls game, praying and hoping they would win even though at that time, they mostly lost. Though I don’t follow basketball as closely now, the Bulls will always hold a special place in my heart.
What is the one website that you have to visit everyday?
Gmail—I’m learning the importance of checking email on a daily basis now.
What is your favorite TV show?
It used to be Glee, but I don’t have one particular favorite TV show now. Some shows I enjoy watching include Modern Family, Grey’s Anatomy, The Sing-Off, Pretty Little Liars and Shark Tank.
If you could be friends with any fictional character, who would you be friends with and why?
Augustus Waters from the book “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green. He is the epitome of the perfect guy—caring, quirky and profound. His insights about life and the importance of leaving a meaningful impact on the world inspire me every day. I fell in love with his personality immediately when reading.
What superpower would be most useful in your life and why? (Feel free to make up a new superpower).
The ability to manipulate time so that I can have more than 24 hours in a day, fit in more sleeping time, relive moments in the past, freeze time when I need to think and reflect and lengthen the holiday season. If I could control the passage of time, then I’d actually be able to finish all the items on my to-do list every day, spend more time with family and friends and not feel bad about procrastinating. As they say, time is precious, but the ability to control time is even more precious!