Lau engages in South’s community, urges peers to find passion

Sharon Kim, staff writer

With a schedule filled with vigorous academics, athletics and art, sophomore Sophia Lau demonstrates a strong passion for learning at South.

According to Lau, her love for learning was evident from a young age. Lau claims she was fully homeschooled by her mother for preschool. From kindergarten through first grade, after returning from school Lau would continue learning with  homeschooling.

“I definitely [felt more comfortable] with homeschool at the time, because I liked the curriculum at the house,” Lau said. “It was a little more challenging because at kindergarten, [the curriculum] was a bit slow.”

Lau claims she made great memories during her time being homeschooled with eight other girls.

“My mom took us everywhere and taught us too,” Lau said. “We would go to different museums, to the zoo and [my mom] is also a teacher so we would have time where we’d do math and read.”

According to Lau, she quickly moved from first grade to second grade within half of a year, and then continued on to third grade, ending her homeschool education. Although Lau is younger than most of her sophomore peers, she is taking all-honors courses at South. Lau said her favorite class is engineering within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education (STEM) program.

“The STEM classes integrate the engineering and science classes so we’re not only just learning but we’re also applying what we’re learning to actually create something,” Lau said.

According to Lau, a memory that stands out to her was designing a quadcopter with a friend in last year’s Maker Faire, an event at South where STEM students design and engineer their own projects.

“It was really interesting because I never really had previous knowledge about how to do any of [the engineering] and it helped us to jump right in,” Lau said.

According to sophomore Savera Zulfiqar, Lau has also been able to meet friends through the STEM program. Zulfiqar claims she met Lau in their engineering class their freshman year.

“[Lau] is very hardworking and doesn’t ever let anything hard stop her from learning,” Zulfiqar said. “She’s really driven to figure out how to solve a problem herself…[Lau] likes to go above and beyond doing just what is required and always likes to work really hard in everything to create a cool project.”

According to Neil Schmidgall, principles of engineering and STEM teacher, Lau displays a great attitude towards learning and strong work ethic.

“She’s very conscientious, reliable and focused,” Schmidgall said. “She gets her work done and she is always doing what she needs to be doing…She’s very busy so she knows she needs to manage her time and she does a really good job at using it well.”

Besides her academics, Lau has been on South’s varsity golf team since her freshman year. Lau said she enjoys how challenging golf can be.

“Golf is very frustrating, and I think that’s what keeps me going back,” Lau said. “You can’t really beat the game but you always try to beat whatever score you last did and there’s always room for improvement.”

According to Lau, her hobbies include painting and playing piano. For piano, Lau trained classically at the Music Institute of Chicago in the past, but now plays solely for her own enjoyment.

“I’m still playing piano but just for fun now,” Lau said. “I’ll look up some tutorials on Youtube for modern pop songs or I’ll try to play covers for different songs that I’m into at the time.”

According to Zulfiqar, Lau is not only a dedicated learner, but is also a great friend.

“She is very smart, as well as wise, and is very level-headed,” Zulfiqar said. “Whenever I need advice, she’s always supporting me and gives very mature advice. She is also one of the kindest people I know.”

Lau claims that her greatest passions include learning and creating new things. She urges others to find their passions as well.

“There’s always something that you can find, so keep looking for something you really like– and once you find it, keep going at it,” Lau said.