At four years old, Sammi Zhu couldn’t speak English.
Now the Douglas County High senior can speak four languages and has scholarship offers from some of the nation’s most prestigious colleges.
Zhu was named the county’s overall S.T.A.R. Student during Monday’s banquet at the Douglasville Conference Center hosted by the Rotary Club of Douglas County.
“Sammi is so special,” said Zhu’s STAR Teacher Corrine Barnes.
In addition to English, and her native Chinese, Zhu speaks French and Spanish, two languages she learned since enrolling in the school’s International Baccalaureate program.
“It is a great an amazing honor to be chosen the STAR Student,” Zhu said. “This award is not for me, but everybody that has helped and supported me through the years. Learning to speak English was a challenge.”
Over the weekend, Zhu made the biggest decision of her academic life when she decided to attend Harvard.
She was also considering MIT, but said Harvard had a great international business major, which led to her decision.
“Harvard is definitely in line with what I want to do in international business,” Zhu said. “I’m definitely excited about the opportunity.”
According to Douglas County High School Principal Andre Weaver, Zhu had academic scholarship offers from Brown, MIT, Harvard and Georgia Tech.
Each school in the county was represented at the banquet. Alexander had two representatives in Roman Compitello and Hayden Bogner. Chapel Hill was represented by Wyatt Griffin and Tiolulope Popoola was the top student from Lithia Springs.
Sua Williams was New Manchester’s representative while Jacob Williams was selected from Heirway Christian.
It is the 13th straight year that Douglas County High has had the overall STAR Student to represent the county.
“It is a testament to the hard work that Sammi has done to put herself in this position,” Weaver said. “She has a great work ethic. She has the drive to be the best.”
Zhu scored 1,550 on the SAT, which is a leading factor in becoming the STAR Student.
The Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program honors Georgia’s highest achieving high school seniors and the teachers who have been most instrumental in their academic development and growth.
To get a STAR nomination, a senior must have the highest score on any single test date of the SAT taken through November of their senior year.
On Zhu’s third test, she obtained her highest score. On her first try, she scored 1,380 and scored 1,440 on the second time. She has a 4.0 grade-point average in one of the most rigorous high school academic programs.
She had always set a goal of 1,500 on the test.
“When I saw that 1,550, I cried,” she said. “I was definitely shocked.”