Janelle Wu became the second member of her family to become valedictorian at Tokay High School. Just two years ago, her sister, Jasmine Wu, was Tokay’s top student.
Thanks to her excellence in several advanced-placement classes, Janelle Wu earned a 4.513 grade-point average, better than anyone in the Tokay High Class of 2011.
The soft-spoken Wu, 18, didn’t expect to be valedictorian.
“I thought a lot of people were smarter than I was,” she said. “It wasn’t a goal.”
But Wu said she didn’t become motivated in the classroom until sixth grade.
So what changed her attitude?
“I did really bad in fifth grade,” she said.
Born in Taiwan, Wu moved with her family to Union City at the age of 1 and came to Lodi 11 years ago. She attended Leroy Nichols School in kindergarten and first grade and transferred to Vinewood Elementary because of the GATE program. She also attended Elkhorn School.
Wu has interests in somewhat opposite disciplines — science and art. For that reason, she isn’t sure where her career will go. She plans to attend University of California, Berkeley and major in astrophysics or business. But, that could change because she really enjoys design and graphic arts.
“I’m just going to explore when I go to college,” Wu said. “It’s diverse.”
Wu said she wanted to attend college close to home and chose Berkeley over University of California, Davis.
At Tokay, Wu participated on the badminton and tennis teams, Academic Decathlon, Key Club, Science Club, Japanese Club, Link Crew, California Scholarship Federation, National Honors Society and Friday Night Live. Her favorite activity was the Key Club, where she was an officer and learned about leadership.
“I’m a really shy person, as you can tell,” Wu said. “It broke me out my shell.”
The daughter of Steven and Jean Wu of Lodi, Janelle Wu has two sisters, Jasmine, 20, who attends UCLA, and Vivian, 24, who lives in Irvine.
Janelle Wu’s hobbies include drawing, piano, astronomy, movies and socializing with her friends.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at email@example.com.