Hesu Yang began learning about math in an unconventional way — over the telephone. His grandmother, Wenying Bai, is a former mathematics teacher and on weekends would give him lessons over the phone from Beijing. He also learns from her during summer visits to China.
“It’s pretty amazing what she put into this,” said Hesu, who goes by Kevin at school.
A 15-year-old sophomore at Gilbert’s Mesquite High School, Hesu has already completed all the math classes the school offers.
He’s learned a lot about geometry from Terry Meyer, and went through pre-calculus and calculus with Dan Stone. Now Stone serves as his contest coordinator and coach.
Hesu’s hard work in math has paid off this year, as he won the gold medal at Arizona Academic Decathlon in mathematics, first place at the Arizona Association of Teachers of Mathematics State Math Contest, first place at the Highland High School Math Contest, first place at the Scottsdale Community College Math Contest with a perfect score and was a qualifier for the USA Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO).
Hesu’s interest was piqued with the creative algebra problems his grandma gave him, and his teachers inspired him in problem solving.
He said math is “definitely” one of his favorite subjects, but he also has other interests.
“I really like China as a culture and I take the time every summer to go back and visit,” said Hesu, who was born in China and lived there until he was 4. “I also like sciences, including biology, chemistry, physics. And music, I’ve studied for quite a few years and learned to have quite an appreciation for it.”
He has played piano for 10 years and violin for five years.
“I think music is a very good way to relax after thinking about math — maybe for a day or two after a test,” he said. “I would say it develops your brain. It really helps me developing my thinking and relaxing.”
Hesu is not sure yet what he wants to do as a profession, but he said business, medicine and engineering are all possibilities.
GPA: About 4.7 (Weighted)
Parents: Jicheng Yang and Wei Su
School: Mesquite High School, Gilbert
• Gold medal, math, Arizona Academic Decathlon
• First place, Arizona Association of Teachers of Mathematics State Math Contest
• First place, Highland High School Math Contest
• First place and perfect score, Scottsdale Community College Math Contest
• Qualifier, USA Mathematical Olympiad