With a 104.46 weighted grade point average, Kimberly Liao shares the honor of Commack High School academic leader with Louis Viglietta.
Liao will be attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology later this year with a combined biology and chemistry major. Her father, Xiangmin Liao, is a chemist, so she said going into that field was always in the back of her mind. Her mother, Xia Zhou, works in the public health sector.
Through the student’s years in the Commack School District, she has been involved in the Regeneron Science Talent Search and was named one of its top 300 scholars for 2020. She also has been class president from her sophomore year through senior year and was a member of the
In 2015, while in eighth grade, she won the Suffolk County girls tennis title and became an all-state qualifier, and repeated the feat a year later.
She said sometimes balancing schoolwork with other activities can be stressful.
“But, I think that all-around prioritizing and knowing when to take a break and when to step back and what needs to be done in that moment of time helps,” she said.
While she was born in Kansas and lived in Minnesota when she was younger, Liao said she has spent all her school years in the Commack district. She attended Indian Hollow Primary School and Burr Intermediate before attending Commack High. Among her favorite classes, she said, was chemistry and she enjoyed conducting science research and being hands-on in biology.
She said while the state mandate requiring schools to close due to the coronavirus was difficult to get used to, she found the workload to be less and tried her best to find things to do to fill her free time. She would go to the tennis courts with her mother, catch up on sleep, and cook and bake a lot.
Liao also finished research for a scientific paper that was recently edited, and she hopes it will be published in ACS Omega, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
As she looks back at high school, she said she is grateful for her teachers, especially club advisers Holly Bellisari and Michael Jeziorski, research teacher Jeanette Collette and chemistry teacher Stephanie O’Brien.
As far as Liao’s future, she said she’s not 100 percent set on a career path yet, but it’s something she looks forward to discovering as she’s thinking of possibly working in some way in the health devices field.
While she’s at college, she said she’ll miss spending time with her family, and her dad said he wants to come up to watch all her tennis matches. She’ll also miss Commack.
“I’ll miss having this great community that I’ve grown to love and has supported me during this journey,” she said. “That will be very hard to let go.”
This year she was part of the prom planning committee. She said that during the first two weeks of quarantine it was hard to grasp that milestone events would be canceled,
but overall she was more troubled by the smaller everyday events than the bigger milestones.
“I was more upset about the little things like seeing my teachers every day, gossiping with my friends,” she said.
When it comes to advice for younger Commack students, which includes her brother Edward, she said it’s important to
find something that they enjoy and really pursue it.
“Take some chances, because you never know what’s going to happen,” she said.