So Zhifan Yang is breathing easier, thanks to a $3,000 scholarship from Time Warner Cable.
Yang, 19, a Newtown High School graduate headed to Stony Brook University in the fall, was one of ten students in the New York metropolitan area and New Jersey to win the award, which honors scientific achievement.
The Time Warner award “is the biggest scholarship I've gotten so I think its an honor,” said Yang, who moved to Elmhurst from Shanghai when he was 16.
Yang said he was informed of the scholarship program by his college counselor, and jumped at the opportunity. “The reason I applied for it is because of the financial burden on my family,” he said. His mother is unemployed; his father is a home health aid.
Yang will study biomedical engineering at Stony Brook. For him, unlike many students in the field, the subject is personal: his mother has stomach cancer. “I want to try to find a cure not only for stomach cancer but for all cancers,” he said.
At Newtown High School, Yang was president of the chess club and a member of the Math League and National Honor Society. In his spare time he volunteered at Newtown Church and the Queens Library.
Yang enjoyed his time at Newtown High School, aided by helpful teachers and advisers.
“Newtown is a good school if you study hard. If you don't it's a terrible high school,” he said. He added, “You know the reputation of Newtown.”
He said he's excited to start college in the fall, even though the Stony Brook campus is, as he put it, “far from civilization.” By that Yang meant Queens and the neighborhood of Elmhurst he now calls home. Nevertheless, Yang said he plans to make the best of it. Given his talent and ambition, there's not doubt he'll do just that.
Time Warner Cable's NYC Region has awarded nearly $450,000 to local college-bound students since the tuition assistance program was started in 2000. This year, for the first time, the program targeted students with an interest in science, technology, engineering and math. (Daniel Bush)