“I’m pretty bent on becoming a professor in chemistry,” said 18-year-old George Fei. “I get to do research, which is kind of the goal of science … and I would get to teach people.”
Fei said many of his friends don’t seem to appreciate science the way he does and tend to be apprehensive about taking classes, entering a profession in the field or really studying it at all.
“I want to bring a bit of passion to show that science, especially chemistry, is not something to be afraid of but more to be in awe of,” he said.
This love for science was introduced to him by his parents, Lynn Shen and Frank Fei, when he was just a child. They both studied chemistry while in college in China and are chemists.
“They kind of encouraged me,” Fei said. “My dad would show me the really cool science things.”
Fei discovered his passion for chemistry in 10th grade after taking his first class with Walton science teacher Diane Smyser.
“She is extremely strict with the way she likes her classroom but she teaches chemistry so incredibly well,” he said. “She was inspiring and made me want to learn. She has this teaching style that somehow clicks with so many of the students.”
Smyser said she’s enjoyed teaching Fei just as much.
“George is one of the most positive, patient, tenacious students I have worked with,” she said.
“His peers tend to rely on him to help teach them class material or to help them figure out class problems or Science Club problems.”
Fei is a tutor at Walton and assists with teachers’ lessons. “One of my favorite things to do is tutor people,” he said. “I believe education should be very influential in people’s lives, and I want to be part of that influence.”
He has also been a member of the school’s Science Olympiad, Math, Science and Academic Bowl teams since his freshman year.
Smyser said Fei takes nothing for granted and is very grateful for all that he is taught. “He is incredibly respectful with teachers and other adults,” she said. “With his peers, he possesses an almost childlike happiness. It is rare to not see George with a smile on his face. Usually, when you do, he is lost in thought about doing school work or focused on a task at hand.”
The 2013 Presidential Scholarship recipient — one of only two in Georgia — is in the top of his class and one of 613 Walton seniors set to graduate Friday morning. The school’s commencement will be at Kennesaw State University.
“It’s going to be a bittersweet moment,” he said about leaving the school he’s grown to love so much. “I will miss all my teachers and my friends who are scattering throughout the country to attend college.”
Fei will start at Stanford University in California in mid-September.
He turned down opportunities to attend Yale University and MIT so that he could pursue a degree in chemistry there.
“Stanford just has that California, sunny weather and I’m all about being optimistic and sunshine is a culmination of optimism,” Fei said. “It also has beautiful architecture, which was also one of my deal breakers about the school itself.”