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Evy Shen - Statesboro High School Valedictorian
Posted 5/31/22

Evy Shen - Statesboro High School Valedictorian

 

Evy ShenEvy Shen confessed that while she has had the highest grade point average of her class for many years, being valedictorian was never her goal, and that as graduation approached, she was actually surprised to receive her school’s top academic honor.

  
She and Minju Kim, Statesboro High’s salutatorian, are friends and actually collaborated on their obligatory graduation speeches.


“We spent three hours brainstorming and reflecting,” Shen said. “I remember having good times in school. Learning was always fun and there were teachers that made it fun, particularly Ms. Cody and Ms. Grace at Julia P. Bryant Elementary School and Ms. Starling at William James Middle School.”


While Shen is humble about her accomplishments, which include being named her school’s and Bulloch County’s STAR student, it has been clear to her teachers and others that she would be successful. Over the past 10 years, one could frequently find her name among the winners of a myriad of academic competitions throughout her elementary, middle, and high school years.


“My goal was always just to pursue academic excellence, friendships, and to have a good high school experience,” she said.

 

The daughter of Junan Shen, Ph.D and Min Zhu, her father is a Georgia Southern University civil engineering Professor. Her parents immigrated to America from China 16 years ago, and they have made Statesboro their home since Evy was in elementary school. She has an older sister, Julie who lives and works in California, and a younger sister, Erin, who is now a rising sophomore at Statesboro High School.

 

Evy has been dual enrolled at Georgia Southern since she was in tenth grade, but she has been accepted at prestigious Stanford University where she’ll continue her studies this fall. She will be entering the university’s Science, Technology, and Society Program which consists of a wide range of academic majors centered on society including public policy, medicine, communication, technology, and more.


While STEM subjects have been her passion, in tenth grade, Jen Calhoun, her Advanced Placement Language, Composition and American Literature teacher, whom she later named as her STAR teacher, encouraged her to develop her writing skills, and it proved to be a previously untapped talent.


“Ms. Calhoun has been  a really transformative figure in my life,” Shen said during this year’s STAR Student and STAR Teacher competition. “I feel like in tenth grade I didn’t really know what I was doing, I was just drifting, kind of, and then she was just always so passionate about the things she was teaching, and it just really compelled me to the things she was talking about.”


While in Calhoun’s AP class, the global COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close that spring. Calhoun provided her students optional online class session during the shutdown, and Shen took advantage of those and her time to cultivate her writing. 


The result was the creation of a new online literary magazine for her high school and her work has been published in 11 national publications, including the Penn Review, the premier literary magazine at the University of Pennsylvania. She was nominated twice for the Governor’s Honors Program in Communication Arts, and she was named a state finalist for the program in 2021. Her work was honored nationally this year by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and she recently won first place for twelfth-grade writers in the Young Georgia Authors competition at both the Bulloch County and First District RESA levels with her poem, “Undocumented.”


“I’ve come to understand the important role writing plays in all careers,” Shen said. “And to be a good writer – Read more."

 

Her mastery of language doesn’t end there. She now speaks three languages: English, Chinese, and Japanese. She took Japanese 1002 at Georgia Southern, and participated in the 2020 Annual Japanese Speech Contest, which is organized by the Georgia Association of Teachers of Japanese, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Georgia, the Japan-America Society of Georgia, and the Consulate General of Japan in Atlanta. She came away with first place in the competition’s high school student category. 


She says her writing is mostly based off of experiences, so the next few months should prove to be a great source of future content as she prepares to move across the country for college.


“I’m looking forward to the many research opportunities and more than 200 clubs that Stanford has,” she says. “Also, moving from a rural to a more urban area that is a hub for technology innovation, there are a lot of tech startups to explore.”


She plans to spend the summer taking walks with her family and playing tennis with friends. Tennis is yet another one of her skills as she and her teammates were region champions the past two years.


“Now that senior year has wound down, it is a welcome change from the intense things," Shen said. "Doing these things is a way to reset myself before leaving for college.”