Cindy Tsou the Science Gal Exploring the World of Science

Megan Schendel, School Editor


Senior Min-Hua “Cindy” Tsou developed a love for science at a young age. Since then, she has participated in many extracurricular activities ranging from Science Club to the Hawai’i STEM Convention, winning numerous awards. Tsou has received her college acceptances and will be attending Columbia University on a full ride scholarship for her first four years of college.

    “Cindy is a very intelligent young woman and she is far advanced compared to her peers in terms of intellectual capacity; she is very mature, she is responsible, she asks good questions, she asks questions that will challenge the teacher to think critically — outside of the box,” said AP Biology teacher Nel Venzon.

    Tsou joined Science Olympiad in middle school, often competing in the Anatomy and Physiology event. It was only after she began participating in Science Olympiad that Tsou discovered her passion for science. “I studied human organs while designing mousetrap vehicles, building robot arms and constructing intricate balsa wood bridges. When I got to high school, my interest in science continued when I participated in the Science Fair. I found an unexplainable excitement for the nitty-gritty details of human physiology, and for the inquisitive, hands-on aspect of research,” said Tsou. “I really like science because I can ask questions about things that is fascinating to me and science allows me to investigate the issues that I am passionate about and find my own answers. It enables me to develop a fascination with how everything works — why things are the way things are. I feel like I am also interested in science because there is so much potential for it in the future where I can find discoveries, help people invent things and pursue my curiosity in such a way that is limitless (and) boundless.”

    In her four years at MHS, Tsou has seen a lot of success, winning a multitude of awards. Last year, Tsou participated in Science Olympiad competitions, attended the International Science Engineering Fair (ISEF), competed at the Pacific Symposium for Science & Sustainability and took Biochemistry 341, a second semester class, at UH Manoa over the summer as a part of their Summer Scholars program. “She attended the International Science Engineering Fair in her Sophomore (and Junior) year and then she won the Texaco Student Research Award at the State Science Fair. Not only that, she is very well rounded, she won the Toyota car diffuser contest. She is not only good at science, she is very good at art too — she is really well balanced. The Zippy’s anti-drug drawing contest, she won that too. I think just overall, she is a very successful student,” said Honors and AP Chemistry teacher Namthip Sitachitta.

    On Jan. 19 and 20, Tsou competed against students from across Hawai’i, American Samoa and Micronesia at the Pacific Symposium for Science and Sustainability. At the competition, students present their original research projects in hopes of placing in the top five so that they can move on to the national competition, the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. This is the second year that Tsou has participated in the symposium, winning an honorable mention at last year’s competition. Tsou presented her Science Fair project from last year, taking 5th place and winning a slot in the national competition. She will be going on an all-expenses paid trip to the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in Albuquerque, NM from April 24 until April 27. There she will compete against 229 other students from high schools across the nation for numerous undergraduate tuition scholarships and cash awards.

    Tsou asks for work and projects to do ahead of time in many of her classes. She also engages in activities that will help her learn outside the scope of the classroom. “On my free time, I like to read research papers. I like to browse to see new topics, especially in the medical field where they’re doing a lot of research that you never imagined to be possible before. It’s really inspiring, especially during my own research project, it’s really inspiring to see what other people are doing in this field to get an idea on how they’re using existing methods and technology and making it better and improving it. It is really interesting to see how the same concepts and the same technology can be improved so that it’s a lot more efficient,” said Tsou. Venzon added, “This is what I admire about Cindy — she doesn’t just do the work because I tell her to do it, she does the work because she wants to do it.”

    Tsou ensures that she has an academically rigorous schedule, including a wide array of college level classes ranging from Calculus 3 to AP Literature and Composition. Outside of classes, Tsou also has a full plate, holding leadership positions in multiple clubs. “I am the President of the Art Club and I plan activities, art projects and art-related service projects for our club. I am the Vice-President of the Science Club. Science Club entails studying for Science Olympiad events like anatomy and genetics and building prototypes like mousetrap vehicles. I am the treasurer for the National Honor Society; the other officers and I work together to plan club-wide activities for NHS. Lastly, I am the Spirit Chairperson for the student council, and I am in charge of leading the banner building committee and building a parade float for our school’s annual homecoming parade,” said Tsou. “Sometimes it gets intense, it can get overwhelming. There are times when I feel overwhelmed, but I always remind myself to take a step back and focus on things at hand.”

    With her senior year almost over, Tsou will be going off to college in less than a year. Having applied to over a dozen colleges, Tsou was ecstatic when she received an acceptance letter and a full ride scholarship to Columbia University. “When she found out, she ran here and she was like, ‘Ahhh,’ and she gave me a hug,” said Sitachitta. “I think her greatest accomplishment would be getting into Columbia. I think that’s her biggest accomplishment because that’s part of her ultimate goal.”

    Aside from being intelligent, Tsou is also a very upbeat and outgoing person. She participates in service projects and is always willing to help other people. “As a person, she is very kind. She is very smart, you know, but she also has that human-level aspect of her that, during class, she makes sure that her group members understand what they are talking about and even though she may be ahead, she is not impatient about being ahead — she cares about others, she will explain the things well. It is nice to have that kind of person where, even though she is ahead in learning and skills, she contributes to the growth of others. She is caring, she is kind, she is very positive,” said Venzon. Sitachitta added, “She is motivated and you can see that in how much she has accomplished. She is just a very pleasant person but, at the same time, she is not just a doormat — if she thinks it is not right, she has a very pleasant way of talking to you, trying to make her point why what you think doesn’t agree with her thinking. She always shows gratitude. She always appreciates friends, appreciates teachers, appreciates everything that she has. She is not arrogant and she thinks that good things happen to her because of people around her.”

    Tsou plans on pursuing a degree in biomedical engineering at Columbia University. She hopes to eventually work somewhere in medical research, finding treatments and cures and developing technology to help treat patients.