We spent the day with one top scholar determined to "light up" the world.
"My name is Sierra Fan. I live in Palo Alto and I'm currently a senior at Henry M. Gunn High School. This fall, I'll be attending Harvard University hoping to study economics and international relations," she told ABC7 News.
Born in Beijing, Sierra and her family emigrated to Palo Alto eight years ago. This straight- A student not only mastered the English language, but learned a third. "Yeah, I do speak Spanish," she said. Asked if she considered herself smart Sierra says, "Well, I think a lot of it is, think just time management, working. Do all your homework. I don't know. It's like a lot of cliché things like that. And then I feel like if you don't waste your time on internet going on Facebook all the time, everyone could get all A's," she says.
Sierra became a flautist at 9-years-old, but started playing piano before the age of five. "For everything I do from flute to piano, to speech and debate, to track and field, to like all my community service, it's all like, if I don't have fun while doing it, if I don't like doing it, then I wouldn't be," she says. "A lot of it is just personal motivation, like I want to do well."
And, she wants to do "good" like her work with the global organization "1 Million Lights," traveling to the Philippines, distributing solar lights to villages without electricity. "Giving them lights gives them the opportunity to better their life, do something different than sustenance farming and surviving day to day. It makes such a huge impact on them," she says.
"It really sets her apart. It just shows that she is an outstanding person mentally, intellectually, emotionally, mature for her age," says One Million Lights founder and CEO Anna Sidana.
Sierra says she schedules "hang out time" with friends to unwind. She also loves painting and drawing. Her artwork on global warming won fifth place in a United Nations environmental program competition. A gallery associated with the San Francisco Asian Art Museum has also exhibited her work. "I guess it's important to focus on academics as a foundation, which you see with my grades and just myself standard, but I don't think it's enough. I think you have to go above and beyond that," she says.
So, we have a straight-A student that says is not all about being book smart.
Congratulations to Sierra Fan for her amazing accomplishments.
Join ABC7 on Sunday, June 17, at 10 a.m. for a half-hour special on all seven of our top scholars this year.