By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Westborough – On March 27, 22 local high school seniors were honored at the Corridor Nine Area Chamber of Commerce 2014 Scholastic and “Champion of Education” awards breakfast held at the Doubletree Hotel. Among the students honored was Westborough High School (WHS) senior Sen Cai.
Cai came to the United States from China in 2012. Her parents sent her here for a better education. She lives in Westborough with her aunt, while they remain in China. Cai entered WHS as a junior who spoke little English. And, while communicating with teachers and peers was difficult, Cai credits her English as a Second Language (ELS) teacher Jackie Coelho for helping her bridge the gap.
“Mrs. Coelho strongly encouraged me to practice speaking English,” Cai said. “She always stayed after school with me to go over lecture materials in different subjects while teaching me English. My English improved greatly. No matter what happens in my life, whether it is tough, sad, or exciting, I love to share my feelings and thoughts with Mrs. Coelho. I trust that she will listen and help me without making me feel inept and upset. In her classroom, where she creates a welcoming and supportive learning environment, my ideas and opinions are valued and I feel confident in expressing myself.”
Throughout her years at WHS, Cai said that she has become much more independent and determined.
“I will not give up on anything. I will at least give a try no matter how difficult it is. I love to dance and swim. I dance Zumba, Thai-dance, Chinese dance, and Latin. I enjoy doing research in the field of science,” she shared. “Researching biomedical processes allows me to link diseases and disorders to molecular processes by designing experiments that produce new insights on fighting harmful disease.”
Cai said she learned valuable lessons at WHS.
“I learned the relationship between love, responsibility, and what it takes to be part of a large community. Being a part of the community means giving something of myself, such as generosity, care, and love that will live forever in the hearts of the recipients,” she said.
At WHS Cai has been involved in many extracurricular activities, including the Shui Bei Village Charity Program, Chemistry Club, Best Buddies, Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), Cooking Community Service (Cooking Club), Interact Club and Color Guard.
Cai will be attending either George Washington University or the University of Massachusetts Amherst Commonwealth Honors College. She plans to major in biochemistry.
“The moment that had the greatest influence on my decision to study biochemistry was when I visited a poor, remote village in China. Many of the young children and elders desperately sought medical help because they were malnourished and sick due to many diseases,” Cai explained. “I hope to comprehend the causes of such diseases and develop drugs or treatments to alleviate people's pain.”
After getting a degree in biochemistry, Cai plans to go on to medical school.
“Majoring in biochemistry will help me achieve my dream of becoming a doctor,” she said. “I dream of contributing to the medical field by discovering novel solutions to detrimental diseases. I was raised by my grandfather, who suffered from asthma and heart attacks, and I saw firsthand the pain these diseases caused.”
As Cai prepares to graduate from high school, she does so with a grateful heart.
“I am so thankful to be here and to be able to make a difference in the lives of others. I plan to study hard and contribute to our society. I love America!”