The awards recognize the nation’s top achievers in Advanced Placement science and math courses with a $2,000 college scholarship to one male and one female student in each state. This year, 101 high school students in 50 states, including 96 seniors, four juniors and one sophomore, were recognized.
Charles and Lisa — who are not related — said they were pleasantly surprised when they each received letters in the mail informing them about earning the scholarships.
“Up until that point, I had been taking AP classes because I wanted to because I thought they were fun and things like that,” said Charles, 18. “I thought it was nice that they’re recognizing kids who have a passion for learning and they put effort into things.”
Both students have taken AP courses since their freshman year at Walton.
To date, Charles has taken a total of 14 AP courses, including five in math and science such as chemistry, biology, calculus and physics. Lisa has taken 19 AP courses, including seven in math and science such as calculus, physics, environmental science and computer science.
“It’s really nice to be challenged and to take a course at a college level,” Lisa said of her decision to take AP courses.
“In an AP course, the pace is faster and we’re encouraged to ask questions that are beyond just the reading material. So it’s really cool to be able to think beyond what we’re expected to know in high school.”
While it’s not uncommon to have students from the same high school receive the awards, it’s a testament to a school and its AP program that has both state winners, a Siemens Foundation spokesman said.
Established in 1998, the Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement awards scholarships to students who have earned the greatest number of scores of five on exams in math and science AP courses. Two national winners, one male and one female, are also recognized, each receiving a $5,000 scholarship.
“These students lead the nation in performance on Advanced Placement math and science courses and we are proud to recognize them for their academic excellence,” said Jeniffer Harper-Taylor, Siemens Foundation president.
According to the College Board, student participation in AP science and math courses grew 7.2 percent to 733,631 students from 2010 to 2011.
Lisa and Charles said taking AP courses has also been a benefit in the college application process. Besides allowing them to study courses more in depth that they may wish to major in, it also impresses college admissions officers, they said.
“I think it lets them know we’ve proven we’re capable of studying at a college level because they are considered to be college level courses,” said Lisa, 18.
Lisa said she has been accepted to Harvard and Georgia Tech, while she awaits decisions from a few other colleges. Georgia Tech has also accepted Charles, he said, but he is waiting to hear from MIT and California Institute of Technology. He has taken two organic chemistry courses for college credit at Georgia Tech.
In addition to both being Siemens scholarship winners, Charles and Lisa say they are also friends. They serve as co-presidents of their school’s Science Club. And each is the only child of Chinese immigrants.
Lisa is the daughter of Larry Wang, a Southern Polytechnic State University math professor, and Lilly Liu, a Chinese teacher at The Westminster Schools. Lisa serves as Walton’s student body president and plays the piano in her spare time.
Charles is the son of John Wang, an electrical engineer, and Qiuling Chew, an accountant. He is a member of the Latin Club, and enjoys playing the piano and violin.