Palmetto High senior Jeffrey Li’s senior year is starting on a good note. He’s been named a National AP Scholar and National Merit Semifinalist.
Li spent the summer working in the bio chemistry department at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, doing research on DNA repair pathways.
“I had actually discovered several proteins potentially involved in skin cancers by the end of my summer internship,” he says.
His internship was through the Howard Hughes Medical Internship program. The year before, he was a volunteer intern at the University of Miami Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute,
“I assisted in real life clinical trials,” he says. “We were looking at patients who had a variety of diseases and deficiencies. We looking to see whether injections of the stem cell would help recuperate the loss, or rehabilitate the role of the lost functions.”
He applied for the Howard Hughes Internship program because he wanted to do more lab work after that experience.
Last school year, Li was president of Model United Nations club. He wanted the club do more community service. So club members organized a Model UN conference held at Palmetto May 23.
“We anticipated having about 100 students,” he says. “We had about five schools show. We had 68 middle school delegates come.”
Li says it was a huge learning experience for members of a club that had nine members at the end of his freshman year.
“It was one of the greatest community service projects I’ve done,” he says.
It was enough of a success, even held on a holiday weekend, that planning has started for the next one. The goal is to reach out to more middle schools.
Li has been successful in Model UN competitions.
“I never thought I’d win an award,” he says. “Attending was intimidating. Last year, our sophomore year, my partner and I were able to win best position paper.”
Last school year, the Palmetto club won more than a dozen awards. Li won Honorable Mention at one event and Outstanding at a competition at FIU.
Li also puts a lot of effort into the Science National Honor Society. He’s vice president of tutoring and he participates in science competitions. He competed in the National Chemistry Olympiad at FIU. This past year, he was part of a six person team at the Barry University Chemistry and Physics Tournament. His team won second place in the physics lab component.
He’s also competed in Social Science Honor Society events. He’s an avid member of the History Bowl team. When he was on the Junior Varsity A team, they were regional finalists and went on to Washington D.C. for the national tournament
“We made it the second round of qualifying,” he says. “It was a great experience to meet high quality history buffs from around the nation.”
This past year, he was on the Varsity C Team and again the team was eligible for the national tournament. However, Palmetto had three teams qualify and only two could go to Washington. He hopes to participate again this school year.
For college, he’s considering UM and some colleges on the west coast of the U.S. He expects to major in something science related.
Li is a member of the badminton varsity team and has won several competitions. He and his doubles partner also competed at the Florida Sunshine State Games.
Outside of school, Li helped Chinese children learn the language of their ancestors by volunteering at the Contemporary Chinese School of South Florida.