Cooking, playing the piano, writing poetry and competing in academic contests are all things that Palmetto High School junior Kelly Hsu has done over the past three years.
Hsu has a wide range of interests and she’s not going to sit back until later in life to try them. She’s bright enough to be a member of Mensa and she wins numerous awards at school for her academic ability, even though she says that science and math are not her thing.
She’s already garnered 450 service hours but she’s looking to earn more. She plans to volunteer at Baptist Hospital and the Old Cutler Presbyterian Church’s vacation bible school, where she usually works in the snack section because she likes food.
In fact, she likes food so much she and a friend have a non-profit baking business called MAKE. “We focus on brownies, cookies and cakes, so everything is homemade,” she says. “All profits will directly go to supporting a school in Nicaragua. We first want to buy school supplies for them to facilitate day-to-day teaching.”
Most of the business they get is through word of mouth, but they have been talking to local businesses for greater distribution. “We take orders. We want two to three days notice because we have school and we’re both very involved,” she says. That involvement includes academic competitions.
“Last year I did EuroChallenge; it’s this economics competition,” she says. “The teams are supposed to focus on one challenge facing the European Union.” Her team was chosen as a semi-finalist and eligible to go the national competition. “I’m also pretty involved in the sciences,” she says, adding that she took part in the annual chemistry competition. “Last year I won first for individual score for the region.”
She also took part in the National Science Bowls and she coordinates the science show for the National Honor Society. “The show is in late May and we go to the elementary schools in the area. We teach them about polymers, slime and explosions,” she says. “We encourage them to take science classes when they actually get to Palmetto.”
Math is another strong subject. She’s treasurer of Mu Alpha Theta and has been competing in the math honor society’s competitions since her freshman year, which she says are quite difficult. “I’ve recently started to place,” she says.
As a board member of Interact, one of Palmetto’s service clubs, she has to coordinate a number of events each year, including an event at Super Wheels called the Halls of Terror and Palmetto’s participation in art festivals. “I coordinated the (Palmetto) volunteers for the Beaux Arts Festival at UM,” she says. Hsu’s summers are as busy as the school year because she participates in college programs.
“I did the Educational Program for Gifted Youth. It was a four week course. I chose to do mine on creative writing,” she says. “I feel at school there is no outlet for me to express my feelings, so I chose creative writing. I’ve gotten a few of my poems on a teen writing site called Teen Ink.” College application season is coming up, and while Hsu isn’t sure about her major, she has narrowed down some of the college choices. She thinks she’d like to attend school in California or the Northeast.
Hsu has been playing the piano since she was three and this spring she played at the Fair.