By Rita J. Egan
After graduating from Ward Melville High School with a 105.2 weighted average and earning the salutatorian title, Michael Lu isn’t missing a beat when it comes to pursuing his career goals.
For part of this summer he will be in a lab at Stony Brook University researching electrical activity in the heart, which he started last year, and he said he is hoping to publish the results in the near future. The East Setauket resident is set to attend the University of Pennsylvania in the fall where he will pursue a degree in biochemistry on the pre-chemistry track.
“I aspire to be a respected physician-scientist in the future, preferably focused on cardiology, so that I may combine my interest in cardiovascular research with my interest in the humanitarian aspect of medicine,” Lu said.
The salutatorian said he first developed an interest in becoming a physician talking to his father Zhongju Lu at the dinner table every night. He said his father was a doctor in China, but when he moved to the United States, he was unable to practice medicine due to different education requirements, so he dedicated himself to research. A few years ago, his father decided to become a doctor. He started his residency in his mid-30s, which is later than most doctors, and his father overcoming hurdles to become a physician has inspired Lu.
Lu said his interest in medicine grew while volunteering at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital where he had a chance to interact with patients and visitors at the front desk, work in different departments and watch nurses and doctors treat patients.
“Being a practicing physician interests me on two fronts,” he said. “One is that I really do want to be involved with research, and I also like the aspect of helping people.”
“Being a practicing physician interests me on two fronts. One is that I really do want to be involved with research, and I also like the aspect of helping people.”
— Michael Lu
For a future physician-scientist, it’s only appropriate he found out the news he was salutatorian in Advanced Placement Chemistry class.
“I was so grateful when everyone in class took the time to congratulate me on the good news,” he said. “After a good five minutes, we all returned quietly to completing the assessment, but I was still riding on that feeling of joy for the rest of the day.”
Lu, who took several advanced placement classes at the high school, started his studies in the Three Village Central School District in second grade. Before then he attended kindergarten and first grade at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School in Port Jefferson.
During his senior year, Lu was vice president of the chess team and debate club and captain of the mock trial team. He said his participation in the extracurriculars through the years has cultivated his public speaking skills, and his time at Ward Melville has taught him the value of time management and planning. Those skills, he said, are essential in an environment where students have many opportunities to explore their interests.
“Besides providing me with a wealth of resources — excellent teachers, a variety of clubs/extracurricular activities and a strong academic support network — Ward Melville has an ingrained culture of hard work and perseverance, all of which have helped to propel me to academic success,” he said.