Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - June 11, 2010

Jillian Du

Gunn's 'raw personality'

Jillian Du says she won't miss the "superficial competition," the morning traffic and the "brown color" of Gunn High School.

But she will miss a great many other things: The traditions. Gunn's "originality and creativeness." The spectrum of talent on campus.

"Of course we take a lot of pride in our academics, like math and science," Du said in an outdoor interview in a courtyard at Gunn.

"But I don't like to define people by their resume or what they do. I like to get to know them for their raw personality.

"At Gunn, you can find a whole bunch of students who really show themselves to you — not to be showy, but to share their talents with the world."

Du's passion comes in the area of community service. Her high school activities all four years centered on the Youth Community Service (YCS) organization and the Rotary Interact Club.

She also has volunteered as a trail-builder at the Cape Cod National Seashore, a castle-renovator in France and a house-builder in Tijuana.

This summer she'll intern at YCS and work at summer camps as well as travel to Asia to visit family before heading off to the University of California at San Diego.

"People come up to me and say, 'Oh, you go to Gunn — you must have gone through so much.' As much as it frustrates me that the moment people think of Gunn they think of suicides, it was a reality check for us.

"Before, I would see Gunn as competitive and cutthroat, but no, it made us realize the genuine care of Gunn, from teachers to students to any of the staff here."

The daughter of two computer engineers from Taiwan, Du is debating between math and social science as a college major.

She says she'll miss the "resources" and "open-mindedness" of Palo Alto, and "how you can turn onto a street and see 10 Priuses."

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