Although complete perfection is theoretically unattainable, Alan Du of Copley High School is pretty close to it in multiple areas.
Du scored a perfect 36 on his ACT and graduated from Copley with a 4.29 grade-point average.
He ranks No. 1 in a senior class of 265 and enters Princeton University with a long list of accomplishments that make him the Akron Beacon Journal Male Scholar Athlete of the Year for the 2012-2013 school year.
“Alan is a very hard worker,” said his mother, Jenny Du. “That is for sure. He doesn’t have to spend too much time on the academics. He has really spent a lot of time on the extracurricular activities, the sports: tennis and soccer, chess and piano. He is a person who wants everything to be perfect, whether it’s homework or everything else. He just wants to be perfect.”
Du strives for perfection under the watchful eyes of his mother, Jenny, and father Ming.
“My parents have pretty much given me guidance throughout my life,” Alan Du said. “They emphasized the importance of school. They have helped me become more of a well-rounded person as a student and as an athlete.”
Du, 18, is set to major in operations research and financial engineering at Princeton. His parents are both engineers. Jenny works for Viasystems in Cuyahoga Falls and Ming works for Goodyear in Akron.
“When they are kids you expect them to do well, but you don’t see their future,” Ming Du said. “Now, you can see. He is very much of a success in the high school sports with tennis and soccer, chess and also academically. He is beyond our expectation.”
Jenny and Ming Du are natives of Beijing and Zhejiang Dongyang in China, respectively, and moved to the United States after marriage in China. Both earned college degrees in their homeland and Ming earned a doctorate from State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Alan was born in Long Island, N.Y., on May 27, 1995. The family relocated to Ohio three years later and also now includes Kevin, who is 14 and a freshman-to-be at Copley.
Du left Ohio in June to go to Nanjing, China, to take part in the National Security Language Initiative for Youth, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Du and others are taking language classes and engaging in cultural experiences in a six-week program that runs in July and August. He is set to return home on Aug. 11.
“Alan is a very humble boy,” Jenny Du said. “He got accepted to top schools, such as Princeton, Yale, Northwestern and NYU, but he is a very low-key guy. He is really nice. All the teachers like him and he likes the teachers too.”
Du is 5-foot-6 and 140 pounds. He found success in soccer and tennis with his speed and quickness, and helped Copley teams reach the state bracket in both sports as a starter.
Copley Assistant Principal and Athletic Administrator Jim Borchik nominated Du for the award and calls him a “great kid and unbelievable scholar and athlete.”
“Copley High School never had had their valedictorian with a perfect ACT score, serve as the senior class president and get elected homecoming king,” Borchik said. “Then to have an individual of this caliber be an All-Suburban League athlete and go to state in two different sports, while also leading our chess and speech and debate teams to local and state recognition is truly remarkable.”
Du was a four-year letter winner in tennis under coach Mark Ullman and a three-year letter winner in soccer under coach David Antal.
“Alan is adored by his teammates, as well as the rest of his peers,” Antal said. “Alan is a role model for everyone. Whether it is in the classroom, where he is a genius, on the tennis court, where he went to state, or on the soccer field, where he also went to state; his peers look to him as the example.”
Du played left defender in soccer and was a two-year starter. The Indians posted a 28-6-6 record in the 40 matches he started.
He started all four years in tennis and played a mixture of doubles and singles that resulted in more than 100 victories.
“Definitely if you work hard, you can achieve and find success,” Alan Du said. “A big part of it is I worked on my time-management skills, because it is hard to play two varsity sports over a school year and focus on academics.
“Athletically, obviously I really loved playing in the state semifinals in soccer in 2011, and then we played in the state team tennis semifinal in 2012 and final in 2013. Those are the highlights and they were amazing experiences. At school, just being with my friends and learning in a fun environment was great. I have enjoyed all of my time at Copley.”
Du said he is excited about his future at Princeton, where he plans to play soccer and tennis on either club teams or recreationally.
“We have discussed a lot about once you do something do it good and do it with your heart,” Ming Du said. “Obviously, he is doing well. His hard work has paid off.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.