Positive PEOPLE in Pinecrest Demi Zhu is the Gulliver Prep Silver Knight nominee in the general scholarship category. Zhu has earned almost 1,000 hours of community service. Many of those hours came from playing cello for the Greater Miami Youth Symphony. She been playing cello since she was in fifth grade.
“We rehearse every Sunday to perform outreach or we can mentor younger musicians,” she says.
The Youth Symphony holds a free Halloween concert each October at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts. She has also played at retirement homes and the Coral Gables Museum as part of a chamber group made up of musicians from the symphony.
She not only plays for the symphony, but she also mentors other musicians who attend the symphony’s summer camps. She took part in four or five of the camps.
“You help everyone around you,” she says. “Right now I am co-section leader.”
There are different levels within the greater Miami Youth Symphony. Zhu says symphony is the highest level. The other levels are the beginning level, Young Mozarts, Strings, Concert Orchestra and, finally, symphony.
“I’ve been in the symphony orchestra for five or six years,” she says. “I love that it’s such a collaborative experience. In orchestra, it isn’t your own playing. You have to be the best you can be, but you can’t stick out. I think it really helped me come out of my shell when I joined the orchestra. It helped me communicate myself better and express myself.”
At Gulliver, Zhu is in the Music Club. “We find places we can play at. We also have a fundraiser every spring, an instrument drive,” she says.
“We find a school to give those donations to.”
She’s also a part of the Ted X group and she is vice president of the National Honor Society.
Her community service includes volunteering at Doctor’s Hospital, where she worked in the volunteer services office.
“We would pick up phones for the office, sign people in or we would go help out whereever needed,” she says. “I think it was a really good experience. I got to meet a lot of volunteers my age and I got to see how the hospital worked behind the scenes.”
Her time at the hospital made her more interested in becoming a doctor.
This past summer, Zhu attended a program at Harvard.
“I took classes in medical science and finance,” she says. “I really enjoyed it. The finance class was really interactive. We had a competition about things related to finance.”
For one task, the teacher asked the students to define terms, but they could not use the internet to find the definitions, instead they had to go out and find people to define the terms.
“When we came back, we had to make a presentation,” Zhu says. “She pushed us out of our comfort zone.”
In the medical class, they had to create public service announcements so she made one on obesity. They also toured the Museum of Medical Innovations, which is affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital.
She’s not sure if she wants to major or minor in music.
“But I want to play in the orchestra of whichever college I go to,” she says.
She has applied to Yale, Princeton and the University of Florida.
She is also interested in the sciences, either biology or physics. “If I majored in physics, I’d probably want to get a PhD and do research,” she says.
“If I decide on biology, I would want to go to medical school and become a doctor.”
— By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld