Top graduates: Michelle Mai - Century High School
Graduating Century High School Senior Michelle Mai came to high school with a love of science she had cultivated since early childhood. The opportunities she found in high school helped cultivate it.
“High school for me was a really long period of self development,” Mai said. “I can honestly say I changed a lot as a person.”
She credits teachers with helping her continue to cultivate her love of science and her successes in STEM classes.
“They made me discover who I want to be as a person,” Mai said.
Mai, daughter of Ming Mai and Liqin Wang, said she grew up in a science-literate home. Her dad is a researcher at Mayo Clinic.
A variety of science lab class choices at Century and her peers helped her grow too, she said.
Being a part of the STEM Society helped her share her love of science with younger students, she said. Through the program, she helped elementary students with their science projects and taught them about the scientific method.
Mai is moving on to study medicine at Brown University in Providence, R.I. The university’s open curriculum within the Liberal Medical Education program and the broad range of classes there will give her plenty of opportunities to explore and pursue her interests and passions, she said.
“Hopefully I can have a bigger impact on the field I want to study,” she said.
Mai has had an impact in the medical field even before graduating high school. She developed a home diagnostic kit for strep throat. That garnered her semifinalist placing in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, which came with $2,000 prizes for her and Century High School apiece.
Last year, Mai was able to work in a Mayo Clinic lab in a mentorship program. That experience gave her a background molecular biology to develop her strep test.
Although she has her sights set on her future, Mai said leaving high school will be bittersweet.
“But there were also moments I was ready to leave,” she said.
Her advice to her fellow graduating seniors is to try to stay in the moment.
“Appreciate what you have right now,” she said. “The journey of life is a long one.”
Mai said she understands that can be hard at a time when people are looking to the future.
“Be present and be able to contribute what you value in society,” Mai said.