Outstanding UW scholar keeps his perspective

One of the brightest recent University of Washington graduates won’t boast much about his own abilities, but he will take the time to thank God and his family for their part in his success.

  • Tuesday, May 13, 2008 2:20pm
  • News

Ting-You Wang

One of the brightest recent University of Washington graduates won’t boast much about his own abilities, but he will take the time to thank God and his family for their part in his success.

Kent native Ting-You Wang, 21, recently was named junior medalist at UW for his academic performance during the 2006-2007 school year. The award, the highest academic honor available each year through the University, was presented to him May 1 at an awards reception.

“I’m fairly excited about it, especially because I get to share the experience with some of the people who really supported me through college,” Wang said before the reception.

He invited his parents, an inspirational former teacher and his supportive brother to the awards reception. He says he has them thank for his achievements, especially his brother, who was also a student at UW during Wang’s time there.

“My brother was very supportive through the whole thing, and whenever I was feeling overwhelmed, he was always there to tell me that things would work out,” he said.

The support must have helped.

Wang, who graduated in December 2007 with degrees in computer engineering and mathematics, was on the dean’s list every quarter during his years at UW. He earned a Microsoft endowment scholarship, departmental scholarships, the Gullickson Award for outstanding juniors in mathematics and the second-year honors calculus award. His accumulative grade-point average was 3.98.

“I can only thank God,” Wang said when asked how he felt about his list of academic accolades.

He entered UW through the Academy of Young Scholars, an early-entrance program for gifted young students. He said he never intended to take that route to college. During his sophomore year at Kentlake High School, one of his friends received a letter from UW advertising the academy.

“He didn’t want to do it alone, so I decided to tag along,” Wang said. “I sent in my application and kind of forgot about it, but a while later I got a letter back saying that I got in. Again, I can only thank God.”

From then on, instead of taking high-school courses, he took college-course equivalents of the high-school requirements at UW. He moved in with his brother and started college as a junior in high school.

“Most of the courses were more challenging, but I was always a person who was always studying and doing things like math competitions, so going to college wasn’t that big of an adjustment,” Wang said.

He had always been interested in math and had recently become interested in computers when he built one with his father, so he decided to study both. He said it took him longer to graduate, but when he did, he earned two bachelor’s degrees instead of the standard single degree.

And the hard work has paid off. A month after graduation, Wang was offered a job as a software development engineer at Amazon.com in Seattle. He says it’s a perfect right-out-of-school position.

“I think this is a good stepping stone for me,” Wang said. “It puts a lot of stuff I learned to practice.”

It’s not the final destination, though. Wang said eventually he wants to go back to graduate school to become a professor.

“I’ve had a lot of professors during my time at UW that have really helped me and encouraged me, and I’d like to do that for other students,” he said.

In the meantime, the active member of Evangelical Chinese Church of South King County has been helping students in another way.

He participates in a program called Talk Time every Friday, helping international students at Green River Community College learn better English and acclimate to U.S. life.

To do so, the talented Wang uses another of his skills. In addition to the complex languages of mathematics and computer code, he also speaks Mandarin Chinese.

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