It’s hard to find a weak spot on Veronica Shi’s impressive résumé. The senior at Tempe’s Corona del Sol High School excels at everything she puts her mind to, including music, math, science, community service and English literature.
The Harvard-bound teenager started playing piano at age 5. Her sophomore year of high school, she won a competition and earned the chance to play a movement of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Phoenix Symphony.
The following year, she designed a project with Arizona State University mentors to study how levels of phosphorus in both African and European honeybees affect their growth rates.
The research was important, she said, because “we know that Africanized honeybees tend to grow faster, and it’s harmful to the environment.”
She then wrote an essay on her research, “From Honey Maker to Lifesaver: The Potential of the Honeybee Genome,” which won the DuPont Challenge Science Essay Competition. In it, she explored how the recent availability of the honeybee genome sequence allows scientists to study and compare bee brains to human brain function and malfunction. Learning how to do professional-level research at an early age has helped her discover her interests, as well as hone her problem-solving abilities, she said.
And the study of genetics and health-related topics fits in with Veronica’s goal of becoming a doctor.
“The medical field allows me to combine my interest in science and my desire to help others,” she said.
She’s continuing that this year, her third year as a research volunteer at Barrow Neurological Institute, where she’s been working on a project involving mathematical modeling of HIV dynamics and treatment.
In addition to math and science, Veronica also speaks Spanish and has earned top scores on eight Advanced Placement exams so far — in a wide variety of subject areas, resulting in several scholarships.
At a Tempe Union High School District meeting last month, Superintendent Shirley Miles joked, “If she used up all of her scholarships she’d be going to school for 50 years.”
School: Corona del Sol High School
Parents: Susan Chen and Zheng Shi
GPA: 4.0 (unweighted)
• 2007 Presidential Scholar
• First in her class
• National Merit Finalist
• National Advanced Placement Scholar
• Siemens Award for Advanced Placement
• Winner of the DuPont Challenge Science Essay Competition
• Finalist, National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts recognition and talent search