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William Phu Is The Salem High School Valedictorian

“Fun Is Vital To Fostering A Strong Student”

William Phu of Salem High School

By Elizabeth Cayouette-Gluckman


Most sElizabethtudents can only dream of going to a school as prestigious as MIT, but for Salem High valedictorian William Phu this long held dream has become a reality.

Phu began his educational career at the pre-school programs at Saltonstall and Bentley schools; he continued on to elementary school at Witchcraft Heights, middle school at Collins, and finally finished things off at Salem High School. Easily one of the most advanced students at the high school now, that held true throughout all of his years of schooling.

But more important than his intelligence, he says, is that “[he] had fun learning, which [he] thinks is vital to fostering a strong student.”

The joy Phu takes in school and learning is clear to his peers, as he shows up to school each day ready to work hard and with an encouraging attitude. Phu is known for collecting motivational pictures to “send to friends when they’re struggling or down; it makes [him] sad when they’re sad, and these little pictures are one way of cheering them up,” he explains. This is just one example of his kindness, which is apparent in his everyday actions.

It is clear that Phu has worked hard to get to MIT, and is looking forward to going there, “it still gives me goosebumps and makes me excited,” he enthuses, “I constantly think that it’s all a dream, and I’m still living in it. I was speechless when I received the decision, and I’m still a bit speechless.”

IMG_0507There is no one more suited to MIT’s unique, innovative and accepting culture than Phu, who plans on majoring in computer science and ultimately obtaining a PhD.

Phu originally thought he would be a doctor as he was growing up, because he enjoys helping people. Once he entered high school, however, he was introduced to programming and fell in love. Right now he is interested in “computer science, with a particular interest in machine learning, as well as bioinformatics, which uses computer applications to crunch scientific data and model biological structures.”

Phu is not only an exceptional student, but he is a well-rounded student as well. A member of Math Team, Science Team and College Bowl, as well as the Cross-Country and Tennis teams, he clearly pursues both academics and athletics. Add on to this a primarily AP course load, and that he has been 2016’s vice-president for the past four years, and you’ll begin to understand how incredibly busy this young man has kept himself.

Phu places a large amount of credit on Salem High’s rigor, activities and teachers with developing him into the person he is today. He says that Salem High is “where [he’s] seen himself grow up, and turn into the curious, energetic adult that [he] is,” he adds that he has “gained some important personal skills…hard work, dedication and determination, compassion, as well as an understanding that I can’t change the past and can only work on improving my future,” a remarkably mature outlook.

FullSizeRenderHe makes sure to note that Salem High’s “teachers, administrators, and faculty go above and beyond to ensure that the students have the greatest opportunity to succeed,” and says that without his teachers he “wouldn’t be where [he] is today.”

With a subject so articulate and exceptional as Phu, this article has been perhaps my easiest, yet most meaningful, to write. As a close friend, I would like to express a heartfelt sentiment: Phu is not lucky to get into MIT—MIT is lucky to have such an exceptional person as him. He is brilliant, but perhaps more importantly, he is a good person. He is compassionate, creative, and truly deserves this.

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