Each road Grace Patuwo has traveled, from the beach
at her birthplace of Shenzhen, China, to Copley High School, where
she is ranked first in her class of 240, has played a significant
role in the 18-year-old's life.
The Beacon Journal Gold Star Student has taken few detours in a path
leading to Yale College, where she will attend classes in the fall
after graduating with a 4.164 grade-point average.
Patuwo remembers the beach of her childhood and long hikes with her
parents in the mountains near her home.
''I would play on the beach all the time. I think that is where my
initial love of science started,'' she said.
The journey continued when her parents, Leah and Eddy Patuwo, moved
the family to the United States when Grace was 7 years old and her
brother, David, was a toddler. Eddy Patuwo is a graduate of Virginia
Tech and a professor of business at Kent State University.
Patuwo credits her parents with instilling her with a sense of
curiosity. Copley guidance counselor Corinne Magensky and advanced
placement biology teacher Connie Kosanovich inspired her quest for
knowledge, she said.
With their encouragement, Patuwo is developing a curriculum she
hopes will someday be adopted by Ohio schools to help students with
the battle against drug addiction.
''When I was little, nobody ever told me what drugs would do to
me,'' she said.
Her research caught the attention of former first lady Laura Bush
and Ohio Rep. Brian Williams, D-Akron, who sent her letters of
Linda M. Fuline, superintendent of Summit County Educational Service
Center, said she met Patuwo recently when the senior was awarded the
2009 Summit County Franklin B. Walter All-Scholastic Award.
''I was extremely impressed with the passion she has to educate
young children in her desire to give back to the community,'' Fuline
said. Patuwo's interest in the subject began her freshman year when
she entered a Brain Bee, an international neuroscience competition.
Students are quizzed in general topics about the brain's anatomy,
imaging waves and neurological diseases.
She surprised herself by winning the regional contest against mostly
older students. She advanced to the international competition at the
University of Maryland, Baltimore, where she learned even more about
the topic at the National Institutes of Health.
''I was fascinated by how people become addicted to drugs,
especially teens. A lot of people have no idea how that happens. I
want to help people stop hurting themselves,'' she said.
That experience led to a nine-week science internship at the
Cleveland Clinic last summer, which only fueled her desire to learn
''The internship was a big turning point in my life. I realized I
wanted to be a doctor when I watched my first neurosurgery,'' she
At Yale, Patuwo will pursue double majors in cognitive science and
ethics, politics and economics, which should lead to medical school
and a career in neurosurgery.
''After becoming a doctor, I want to go into public health. As a
private doctor, I can only help my patients. But in public health, I
can help the nation,'' she said.
Vikas Turakhia, advanced placement literature teacher at Copley High
School, recommended Patuwo as a Beacon Journal star student.
''She makes me want to be a better teacher,'' Turakhia said in his
letter nominating Patuwo for the award.
While studies forced her to drop out of the school's tennis team,
Patuwo said she still loves the competitive sport.
She also loves music — having played the French horn since she was
an elementary student at Chapel Hill Christian School — and hopes to
pursue a minor in music at Yale.
Patuwo is the principal horn player with the Cleveland Orchestra
Youth Orchestra. Playing chamber music with her friends is one of
her favorite pastimes, she said.
In the end, Patuwo insists it is her parents who deserve the credit
for all her success.
''Without their support and guidance, I couldn't have done any of
this,'' she said.