The latest NY1 Scholar Athlete juggles three sports and is a role model to his fellow students. NY1's Anthony Pascale filed the following report.
While most high school seniors are focused on figuring out which college they want to attend, Zhen Hui Gao cares just as much about his classmates' futures as he does his own. He is a three sport athlete at the High School of Economics and Finance. Teachers say he’s like a big brother to his fellow athletes.
"You have to be on the outlook for each other and through that process when you're looking out for them, you build relationships and bonds where you become friends, brothers, become a second family for each other," says Zhen Hui.
Gao captains the handball team and the basketball team this season, and he joined the bowling team this fall to relieve stress from filling out college applications.
"We're a small school. We don't have that many sports teams but Z somehow managed to find a team to join for each of the three seasons. So he definitely has a reputation around the school as being a good athlete," says assistant principal Heather Page.
Gao is an "A" student as well as a scholar in the Sponsor of Educational Opportunity Program which offers low-income and high-performing public school students help preparing for college including SAT tutoring.
"I'm just kind of blessed to have these teachers here to teach me, take their time. It's a commitment, but if you give it your all, they'll help you out," says Zhen Hui.
In turn, Gao dedicates his spare time to make sure his fellow athletes and classmates are on the right track.
"He's a big influence for the younger guys just because of how he acts and presents himself in practice. Even that time between 3:30 and 5:30 [p.m.] when we don't have practice, he's tutoring kids and stuff like that. He's a huge influence on the team," says varsity basketball coach Dan Geraghty.
"He'll kind of come to me and ask about classmates and how they were doing, if they had come to my office to work with me yet and if certain of his friends had accomplished certain tasks. I just find it really refreshing to see a kid who's not just so completely self-absorbed, but really thinking about the people around him," says guidance counselor Jeffrey Makris.
Gao wants to pursue a career in physical therapy and attended an introduction to medicine program at Brown University last summer.
"I'm really fascinated with how the human body works and the potential of kinesiology, how your limbs move and how your body functions," says Zhen Hui.
So, for his selfless dedication and generosity, Zhen Hui Gao is the latest NY1 Scholar Athlete of the Week.