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National Merit Scholarship winner plans career in medical field

Meet the Future: Andrew Yeh

Name: Andrew Yeh
School/grade level: Graduated senior, Forest Hills Northern High School
Passion: Orthopedic surgery

Forest Hills — Originally, senior Andrew Yeh’s career goal was to become a lawyer. But in his freshman year, he tore his labrum, the tissue that holds the shoulder socket together. And then during his junior year, while playing lacrosse, he broke his shoulder socket.

After getting a first-hand look at how orthopedic surgeons are able to repair the human body — including his — Andrew’s career interests started to change. 

This fall, he plans to head to Purdue University on a pre-medical track to study biomedical engineering with the goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon.

How old were you when becoming an orthopedic surgeon became something you wanted to pursue, and what’s the story there? Andrew said his interest in the medical field formed in high school, as he healed from his injuries.

“I just like how intricate it was and how the surgeon was able to come in and show me all these different things (like) the X-rays, (saying) ‘This is what happened (and) this is how we’re gonna fix it.’ He walked me through everything,” Andrew said. 

“I’ve had two shoulder surgeries and I kind of want to work on shoulders; I think it’d be fun to become a surgeon to work on that.”

Classes in school helped, too, he said: “I really enjoyed my biology class, so I knew I wanted to do something medical, and I liked engineering as well, so that’s kind of biomedical engineering. I find that really interesting and I like solving problems.”

A few related accomplishments: Andrew was one of 2,500 students who was awarded a $2,500 National Merit Scholarship this year. To be considered, students had to score between 215 and 219 on the preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), write an essay and submit a resume that included extracurricular activities both in and outside of school. Andrew’s dad, Forest Hills Northern physics teacher Elbert Yeh, looked through school records and could not find another winner from Northern High in the past 20 years. 

“It was kind of a shock. I wasn’t expecting it, but I was pretty happy,” Andrew said. “It didn’t really hit me until everyone started saying ‘Congratulations.’ My parents were telling me how big of a deal it was, and obviously I was happy about the scholarship because it helps pay for college.”

Andrew said he liked to challenge himself in high school, taking as many Advanced Placement classes as he could. In his senior year, he dual-enrolled at Calvin University to take Calculus III and Differential Equations classes.

“I found (taking the challenging classes) more satisfying. I don’t like taking the easy route because that makes you feel like you’re missing out, and school was never super-difficult for me. So it was easier for me to take the harder classes.”

Andrew Yeh was named a National Merit Scholarship winner his senior year

Do you plan to pursue orthopedics professionally? Envision yourself 10/20 years from now: “I’ll have graduated med school and then (finished) my residency; ultimately, I want to own my own practice. … I like Grand Rapids, but I’ll go wherever I can find work. I don’t really care where I go, necessarily.”

The biggest lesson you have learned is… “Challenge yourself, take the harder classes and make relationships with your teachers, because if you talk in class and try to actually get to know your teachers and have them get to know you, they will be a lot more lenient and the classes will become easier. You’ll find you have more motivation when you actually like the class and the teacher and people you’re in class with.”

Other hobbies or interests: Andrew played football during grades nine and 10, wrestling in grades 10-12 and lacrosse all four years of high school.

He participated in his school’s vehicle design program, part of the Square One Education Network Innovative Vehicle Competition where students build underwater or autonomous vehicles. Andrew was on the build team for the autonomous vehicle: “We were in the garage, welding and stuff. It was really, really fun and I got to drive during the actual competition.”

He has also been involved in student government, National Honor Society, Distributive Education Clubs of America, chess club and was a mentor for the Game Chang3rs… Building a Legacy youth development program. 

In his spare time, Andrew works at Mission BBQ and Thornapple Pointe Golf Course.

Read more from Forest Hills: 
Wrestler first to commit to GVSU’s new women’s program
Investigating strategies pay off for personal finance studen

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio


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