FRESH MEADOWS, QUEENS (CBS 2) – A trip to the principal’s office turned into a celebration for a student in Queens.
For high school senior Viola Wu, fencing is all about fancy footwork and focus. A captain on her school’s team, she loved the strategy behind the sport.
“It’s more about thoughts. You have to think what your opponent’s doing,” said Viola.
It’s a technique she also applies in the classroom at Francis Lewis High School.
“Through all the distractions you have in high school,” said teacher Francine Weissman.
“Since I’ve known her, she’s done everything she could possibly do to get to this point.”
Including learning English. Viola couldn’t speak speak a word when her family emigrated from China eight years ago.
“The first year was really tough,” she said. “I had to study really hard.”
She said her parents hoped the move to America would give and her sisters an equal advantage.
“We have more opportunity for girls because we’re at the same level,” said Viola. “So that’s why we decided to come here.”
Another opportunity came calling on Thursday when Viola learned she one of just four students to win $100,000 from the Proton Energy Scholarship Program.
Her principal gave her the good news. “And then after that, I couldn’t hear anything that he said because I was thinking, ‘Really? Did that really happen to me,’” she said.
The scholarship means a full ride when she attends the Rochester Institute of Technology to study chemical engineering next year.
“At this point, I still can’t believe it,” said Viola.
And her teachers say it’s well deserved. “She’s the type of student who you know why you took this job,” said Weissman.
And on top of it all, Viola has worked part-time jobs since she was 14-years-old to help support her family.
More than 700 students applied for the scholarship that is open to aspiring scientist.
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