Katharine Shao aspires to be an engineer

By Liv Chahal, Detroit Country Day

With sparkling dark eyes and energetic hand gestures, Katharine Shao, a student at Detroit Country Day School, bubbles over with intensity while explaining the love of her life: engineering. With nimble, never able to sit still fingers, she creates, builds, and brainstorms.

“I enjoying tinkering with things because I feel accomplished when I create a new product,” Shao said with a wide grin, “Not to mention, tinkering with and creating objects takes away the boredom of life.”

Shao says that much of this person she is today is attributed to her mother. Her mother worked hard and with grit to accomplish her dream of coming to the United States from China. Today, she still makes challenging self sacrifices to give Shao the best life possible — from enrolling her in one of the most prestigious private schools in the state to coaching Shao to pursue whatever passion she may be interested in.

“My mom is truly my hero — always working hard for my happiness,” Shao said. “To a large extent, I have inherited her determination and perseverance.”

One of Shao’s goals is to become well-educated in order to acquire a suitable job in the engineering field. To get to this point in her life, she pursues a variety of academic endeavors, from entering her literary work in national writing competitions to attempting two sports on top of her busy academic schedule.

“The challenging courses and homework load at my school can be a burden sometimes, but by keeping relatively calm and positive, I get through the day optimistically,” Shao said. “You just cannot afford to sweat the small things in life.”

Shao emphasizes the need to unwind physically. However, the thoughts in her mind are constantly whirring, as shown through the cartoons she nonchalantly, yet skillfully, doodles during breaks within her hectic schedule. Her hobbies during this down time all involve creative thinking: creating origami, writing short stories, and making crafts from beads.

“I also enjoy watching movies — my favorite is ‘Up,’” Shao says, “It is such a sweet story that explores the great regrets of life, as well as the themes of loyalty and compassion.”

On the topic of loyalty, one of Shao’s personal goals is to always maintain good friends through thick and thin. She enjoys a good dose of humor at the end of a long day, and always seeks  fun, yet not shallow, personalities when making new friends. Most importantly, Shao values a person based on the way they treat others.

“My biggest pet peeve is when people sabotage others and act like they are entitled to hurt people as they please,” Shao said passionately and drawing from her own experiences, “It is wrong to hurt others on purpose — it only shows the person doing the hurting is very weak.”

Regarding the bigger picture however, Shao certainly does not have pet peeves and high school hardships on her radar.

“All of my hard work now will pay off in the future,” Shao said quietly for the first time. “Bad experiences and all nighters to finish assignments will be remembered vaguely as the enigmas of high school. If I keep on doing what I am doing now, I will eventually climb to the top of the mountain and and see the beautiful view of the valley below.”

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