After achieving perfect scores on the ACT and SAT, Karen Wu of east Cobb, a senior at Kell High School, will make Princeton University her new academic home this fall.
She visited Princeton over Spring Break and said she was impressed by the campus’ architecture.
“All their old buildings are kind of like the same color, and I feel like their style really imitates European Gothic architecture,” she said. “It was a common theme you see among school campuses.”
Not only did Wu like to the way Princeton looked, the university’s incorporation of research into its curriculum also appealed to her.
She was accepted into Stanford University, University of Chicago and California Institute of Technology, but she said Princeton’s research program was different than other top-tiered schools. Wu said she wants the chance to do her own research and not just be a lab assistant.
Now that she has settled on a university, Wu, whose favorite author of the moment is David Foster Wallace, is still in the process of choosing her major: chemistry or economics.
Her father, Bin Wu, is a chemist at Zep Inc., which she said has influenced her fascination with science.
Wu said when she was younger, her father would ask her questions to help her learn like, “Why does the mirror fog up after you take a shower?” She said this is how she became interested in science and “trying to understand what’s going on around you.”
Her other possible route of economics piqued her interested after she competed a summer economics class at Emory University after her sophomore year.
Valerie Bullock, Kell High School counselor, said Wu always wants to learn.
She said some students pretend as if they know all the answers, but Wu is not one of those students. Bullock said even though Wu is the most intelligent person in the room, she makes people feel like they have something to offer.
Bullock described Wu as precise, involved and focused but also as humble and authentic.
“We all love Karen,” Bullock said. “She makes the other person feel special. She makes the other person feel intelligent.”
Bullock said Wu has made her a better counselor.
Born in Norman, Oklahoma, Wu, 17, has lived in the metro Atlanta area since she was 2 years old. Her mother, Menggu Wu, is a Bank of America computer engineer, and her younger sister, Claire, 10, is a student at Keheley Elementary School.
Before she moves to Princeton, Wu plans to continue her student tutor job at East Cobb Test Prep this summer.
“Personally, I really like to learn, so I like to see other people learn as well,” Wu said.
Wu said she feels like other students might not enjoy their classes because they do not have a deep understanding of the class material, so she tries to help them.
With Wu’s high school graduation a little more than a month away, Bullock said she is going to miss her, but they will keep in touch.