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News Section: Schools and Education

Local Academic Star Continues to Shine

Published Tuesday, July 1, 2014 12:02 am

BRADENTON – One of Bradenton’s own has proved himself to be more than just a smart kid. In fact, he has become an above-and-beyond success story. Born in Taiwan, 22-year-old Po-Yi Ho, graduate of Yale University, Lakewood Ranch High School, Braden River Middle and Braden River Elementary, is on his way to Harvard this fall to begin graduate school. Ho is seeking a PhD in applied physics. He claims that Bradenton and its teachers are largely to thank for his accomplishments and work ethic.

Even before being accepted into Yale for undergraduate school, Ho was an extremely successful and well-known student here in Bradenton. In high school, he took and passed 12 Advanced Placement courses, including Physics, Calculus, American History, Literature and Chemistry. He was a winner of the National Merit Scholarship and was even crowned prom king at Lakewood Ranch High School his senior year. He is also an extremely gifted violinist, and has always enjoyed playing in his school orchestras.

At Yale, Ho majored in physics and graduated with a Bachelor of Science. There, he was a member of the Yale Undergraduate Microgravity Research Team, where the members of the team designed their own experiments and carried them out in zero gravity through NASA’s student program. Ho said that being a part of the physics department was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “The faculty treats the students like family, and the students themselves are amazing,” he said. “I have friends who I am sure will change the world and the way we think about the world…I am lucky to have gone to Yale for undergraduate physics.”

This summer, Ho will be a residential counselor for the six-week Stanford Pre-Collegiate Studies program. As a residential counselor, he will be both a teaching assistant and a residential advisor. He says that his job will be to help the high school students understand their class materials and to keep them safe outside of class. He will also be helping to teach quantum mechanics and relativity. Ho says that he chose to do this job because he attended the program when he was in high school. “I had a blast and now I want to help younger students do the same.”

During graduate school at Harvard, Ho will be studying biophysics. After graduating Harvard, he says he plans to continue research in biophysics, most likely at a research university, although he isn’t yet sure where he wants to go. “My goal is to figure out how life works, figure out the physics of life,” Ho says. “We understand quite well how non-living matter behaves, but we have little to no understanding of how living things work. We know through case-by-case descriptions how specific biological mechanisms work, but we cannot say we understand these things as well as we understand non-living matter.”

Ho has attributed many of his successes to his teachers here in Bradenton. One teacher in particular, Stephen Terry, who was the orchestra teacher at LRHS for 16 years, was particularly influential for him. “Mr. Terry really helped me grow as a person. He set a great example as the leader of the orchestra. He not only preached responsibility, he really demonstrated it, and helped us realize that responsibility is one of the most important character traits…Mr. Terry was a great teacher and understood the importance of responsibility.”

Not willing to limit his gratitude to any one teacher, Ho also says that even though Mr. Terry was the most influential of his teachers, all of his teachers at LRHS influenced him for the better. “Ms. Harper, Mrs. Moody, Ms. Mills, Mr. Moates, Mrs. Tresky, Mrs. Austerman, Mr. Wood. They all challenged me intellectually and as a person. It says something that my entire family knows and still remembers who these teachers are; my dad wasn’t even in Bradenton with us, and he still knows about them.”

Even though Bradenton has produced many success stories with its students in past years, its teachers rarely get to hear such appreciation from the students themselves. Take it from Ho—a recent Yale graduate and future Harvard graduate: “Bradenton is blessed with amazing schools…We can’t ever thank our teachers enough. The only way is to pay it forward and teach the next generation.”

As an old friend and recently re-established pen pal of Mr. Po-Yi Ho, I can personally attest to his integrity and brilliance, both as a student and as a person. I have never met a more humble and unassuming person, even though he clearly has so much going for him. He touches the lives of students and teachers he meets with his constant thirst to learn more about the world around us. I have no doubt that he will one day make groundbreaking discoveries that help explain the “physics of life.”

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