Q&A: Swimming Helps Propel Zhou's Other Passions
National Merit Finalists share thoughts about their high school experience.
Editor's Note: Lake Forest High School seniors finished classes May 23. This is the sixth in a series of Q&A articles appearing periodically between now and June 2 when Lake Forest's Class of 2012 graduates. Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Patch has asked the senior class' National Merit Finalists to answer some traditional and not-so traditional questions about their high school experience.
Name: Amanda Zhou
Year at LFHS: Senior
Attending college next fall? Where? Why did you pick that school? If not college, what are your plans?
I am going to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology next fall. MIT, besides being a school that allows me to focus on the subjects I’m most passionate about, provides me with the opportunity to continue my extracurricular activities in my secondary education. For me, MIT has the perfect blend of academics, athletics, and music. Also, I cannot wait to spend the next four years right next to Boston!
What was your favorite class in high school, and why?
My favorite class in high school was AP Calculus BC, taught by Mr. Aronson. This class was the epitome of my high school experience. I can’t think of another class where learning felt so natural and even effortless. There were days when I felt like I wasn’t in class, but instead just having conversations about math with my friends. The class truly made me fall in love with math. Mr. Aronson is a phenomenal teacher and a hilarious man.
What was your least favorite class in high school, and why?
My least favorite class would have to be any of the history classes that I took. This had absolutely nothing to do with my teachers, who were all wonderful, but with the fact that I am not a history person. While I found the subject to be interesting, I could never keep track of all the dates in my head!
What class do you wish you had been able to take, and why?
I’ve always had an interest in psychology, and I wish I had the time to study it during high school. MIT has a major called “Brain and Cognitive Sciences,” so hopefully I’ll get to take some of those classes.
Did you participate in extracurricular activities? Which one or ones?
I have been a part of the high school varsity swim team for my entire high school career, a sport and passion that definitely made me who I am today. Swimming honestly becomes a way of life - something I can’t imagine my life without. I am also a part of our school’s math team, Scholastic Bowl team, Science Olympiad, Debate, and the Symphonic and Pit orchestras. Outside of school, I am the president of the North Shore United Way Youth Board and a member of Midwest Young Artists.
Is there an extracurricular activity you wish you had been able to try? Why?
I only recently discovered my passion and love for United Way, and wish I had done more activities throughout high school that gave back to the community, including the Red Cross Club and Big to Little. Besides that, I always regret not being able to run cross country, but its season is at the same time as swimming.
Are your study habits the same as they were four years ago? If no, what has changed? If yes, describe your study habits?
At the beginning of high school, I was someone who relied on the last minute cramming for tests. I wasn’t worried if I didn’t get the material right away since I knew I’d figure it out for the test. But now, as my workload has increased, I’ve learned that you can’t completely rely on last-minute studying. I now work to actually learn the material when it is being taught. Especially since I split my time between so many different activities, I have learned to really make the most of the time I do dedicate to my studies.
What advice would you pass on to incoming freshmen at LFHS?
Don’t worry too much about the future. Of course, you can’t completely forget about your goals and aspirations, but that doesn’t mean you have to stress out all the time. Take time to enjoy what you have, because you only have one shot at all of this. Work hard, but remember, it will all work out in the end.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Truthfully, I have absolutely no idea where I’ll be in 10 years, and I definitely admire the people who do have their lives planned out. Currently, I plan on having my M.D./Ph.D. and pursuing a career and field that I love. While I have no inkling as to what field that may be, I definitely want to continually find my work enjoyable and intriguing.