EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Lucy Zou, the Valedictorian of East Brunswick’s 2020 graduating class, prepares to say goodbye to East Brunswick High School, and hello to the prestigious halls of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Lucy plans on studying nanotechnology and working in the biotechnology industry.
As another student at EBHS, I seriously admire Lucy’s work ethic and motivation, which she derives from her experience “working with and hearing the stories of veterans through the Veterans to Foreign Wars Voice of Democracy Competition.” Lucy told me that hearing the stories told by the Veterans gave a voice to those who may have lost theirs, and that the veterans had been “telling the stories that need to be told.” In the classroom, Lucy competed in the U.S. Biology Olympiad Team, making it to the national round of the competition. Lucy attributes her “expanded way of thinking and ability to be pushed to the next level” to the students and teachers she met through her time on the team. She also adds that while on the team, she embraced the opportunities science provided her to answer hard, pressing questions.
Clearly, Lucy thrived in the STEM department. Surprisingly enough, the classes that impacted Lucy the most were history classes, English classes, and Spanish classes. She said that these classes forced her to “think in new ways.” Particularly, her Spanish class did a long-term investigation where they had to learn the culture of another region. While studying Brazil, she was humbled by the “societal issues faced by Brazilians which are so miniscule to privileged Americans.”
To the class of 2021, Lucy wants everyone to know that the college application process is not as bad as it seems, and “it is what you make of it.” Unfortunately, there will be rejections, and the process is defined by how you handle those rejections and use it to build yourself up. The best advice she can give is to have a support system, and try to see the good in everyone. She said there are so many “heroes” at East Brunswick High School, and to find the students and teachers that support you. For Lucy, she relied on her counselor, Ms. Amaturo, and her teachers, specifically Mrs. Cisnero, Mr. Cohen, and Dr. Atkins. Lucy also credits her mom for her success, who was supportive of her goals, taught her boundaries, yet gave her freedom to explore her identity and her interests.
Ultimately, Lucy leaves high school behind proud of herself, but more importantly proud of her network and her community. She does not want her individual accomplishments remembered, but rather the community she was a part of.