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Tiffany Huang

Saratoga, CA

Saratoga High School

Grade: Sophomore


playing violin (and attempting to “play” other instruments), running, eating, listening to music, watching random videos, chatting friends


Math Club, Computer Science Club, History/Quiz Bowl Team, Cross Country Team, California Youth Symphony


AIME Qualifier (2014-2016), USAJMO Qualifier (2015), USACO Platinum Division (2016), History Bowl Nationals (2015-2016), MathCounts (NorCal) State (2014), Math Prize for Girls (2015)


I don’t really know how this all happened.

No, not my interest in physics, or STEM for that matter. That spark has always existed within me, though maybe not directly. From childhood, I cast away the Barbie dolls in exchange for LEGOs, building up my very own one-room cabin from spare pieces (a masterpiece I still have constructed today). I spent days rereading books on sharks and space, sitting on the couch with my mom watching, with simultaneous awe and terror, documentaries about the mysteries of our vast universe. I thought about the patterns in my sheet music, pondered how machines functioned (roughly, since I knew absolutely nothing about physics at the time), mulled over the workings of everything I saw.

This vague sense of an inclination didn’t grow into something greater for years. Then, elementary school and a parent-organized math team came. Suddenly, I was thrust into an environment that encouraged further study of mathematics with classmates of similar interests. My love for math remained only partly solidified until middle school, with MathCounts and the AMC contest series. Preparation for these contests revealed to me the beauty of math, how something so often seen as mechanistic can hold so many slick tricks and shocking relationships, and my love for the subject only grew from there.

Physics was first introduced to me in high school, presented largely as an easy transition into a new subject from math. But as I studied, I came to the understanding that I was dealing with something that deserved greater than mere memorization. This subject, combining the perfection of mathematics with scientific theory, has the power to explain the entire universe and should be, rather than simply studied, deeply appreciated.

And here I am, confused, or amazed, rather, I should say. The progress I’ve made to get where I am today, in both math and physics, has all been a blur. I remember how slow going it was at first. Frustration over unsolved problems. Anger over my poor performance. But my love for the subjects kept me going, and soon, the days, months, years passed in a blink of an eye, in their place this invaluable opportunity has arisen, an opportunity I am surprised to have received, but an opportunity that I am immensely grateful for nevertheless.

And, of course, the obligatory, but very much genuine, message of thanks I must give. Thank you so much to Dr. Tang, the teacher who has quite literally taught me everything I know about physics and has supported me every step of the way, even when I didn’t do the measly four problems assigned for homework. Mr. Davis, your kindness toward a student you didn’t even know has made this all possible, inspiring me to achieve and giving me a taste of the practical applications of the subject. To Mr. Yim, infinite gratitude. Ever since middle school MathCounts you have always been there, giving up hours of your own time to be our coach and advisor and being the teacher who has showed me and instilled in me a true appreciation for mathematics. My friends, of course, the weirdos who’ve always put up with me missing things for contest preparation and have always supported me in whatever I do. And, finally, my family. My brother, who’s been with me every day of my life. My aunt, who’s always reached out a hand to help whenever possible. And my parents, who’ve raised me, who’ve given up so much to help me develop into the best person I can be, and who’ve always dealt with and nurtured my incessant questioning and unending curiosity that continues even today.

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