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Jessica Qu was born in Sichuan, the spicy-food-loving, giant-pandas-roaming part of China. Because her parents were abroad, Jessica spent most of her childhood under the guidance of her grandparents. When she was united with her parents in Boston in the summer of 1999, Jessica was well prepared for the complexity of an American education, that is, if she could overcome the seemingly insurmountable English barrier.

In the fall of 2002, Jessica entered the famed halls of Boston Latin School as a “Bsie,” a term she regards with immense fondness and pride. The transition from a tiny school to one with 30-student classes, teeming hallways and interminable lunch lines unnerved her quite a bit, but thanks to her power of adjusting, Jessica was able to reduce her chance of walking into the wrong classroom at the wrong time to 1 out of 10.

Over the next three years at Latin, Jessica encountered unprecedented challenges and met her fair share of interesting and inspirational teachers and classmates. Mr. Bilodeau’s impossible conics test in the ninth grade, Dr. Neary’s WWII reenactment in the tenth grade, and Mr. Akeson’s gorilla impersonation in the eleventh grade have all taught Jessica to take her studies seriously.

Academics aside, Jessica takes great pride in her extracurricular activities, which make her days more exciting and meaningful. She is the copy editor of the Argo, layout editor of the Register, captain of the computer team and co-captain of Science Olympiad. She has also founded two clubs with her peers, one of which promotes Chinese language and culture, and the other, Junior State, encourages discussion on political and social issues. In fact, it is Junior State that deepened her interest in government and public service, and led her to apply for the Ward Fellowship.

One of Jessica’s hidden passions is teaching. She has taught Chinese and Java programming, and on Saturdays, she tutors underclassmen in Saturday Success School, though she does admit that the languishment she feels on weekends has led her to miss quite a few sessions. In the community, Jessica has volunteered many hours at Beth Israel. She also participates in an interesting project that offers her an opportunity to host a weekly 30-minute live show on BNN.

In her free time, though the two words loss their meaning during the school year, Jessica enjoys swimming and piano playing. What affords her the greatest pleasure, however, is watching the Simpsons, Family Guy, and all the mindless but thoroughly enjoyable cartoons on TV.

Jessica has yet to finalize her college plans. Although Duke and Princeton interest her considerably, she’ll probably settle for a campus near her mother’s Sichuan cooking—because she just can’t live without spicy food.

Jessica’s sponsor is James Hunt, the Chief of Environmental and Energy Services for City of Boston.