Huskies' Wu plans to prove Harvard and volleyball do mix
All of those all-nighters have paid off for Christine Wu.
At a time of year when seniors are checking the mailbox for college acceptance letters, Wu is all set. The Naperville North senior is headed to Harvard where she'll squeeze in playing volleyball between her considerable studies.
Of course, they don't just let anyone into Harvard, but Wu didn't exactly have to sweat her admittance. She owns a 4.5 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale thanks to taking a slew of honors courses, and she scored a 35 on the ACT. (She scored a perfect 36 on the math and science parts.)
Wu wants to become either a pediatrician or oncologist.
"Anything in medicine really fascinates me, but I like little kids and oncology because my mom had breast cancer and I know a lot of people that have, so I really want to study that," she said.
Wu is looking at 10 to 12 more years of school before embarking on a medical career. With so much serious studying ahead of her, why is she even bothering continuing her athletic career?
In short because she digs volleyball.
"I've been playing volleyball since I was 12," Wu said. "It's just really become a huge part of me. Right now it's probably like half of my life besides school and stuff. I don't know what I would do without it. I think it's really cool to be a collegiate athlete.
"I know after college I won't be playing, but I'll still want to keep in touch with the thing. I'll probably help coach or go back to my club and run camps or something. It's definitely a part of me, and I love it."
Wu has made her mark in a sport so dominated by height. She stands a modest 5-foot-4 but developed into one of the area's best liberos with her quickness, anticipation and determination in the back row.
"Whenever I talk with people, they always kind of make fun out of my shortness," Wu said. "I'm always the shortest one on any team that I've been on. It's definitely an advantage if you're tall, even in the back row if you have longer arms, longer legs, you can get to a ball faster and reach higher. I guess I make up for it with quickness."
A three-time all-DuPage Valley Conference selection and two-time Daily Herald All-Area pick, Wu was voted "Best Libero" at the Mizuno Cup last fall on the way to setting a Naperville North record for career digs with 993.
They didn't boo her at Naperville North. Huskies fans were simply saying "Wuuuu."
Now Wu is playing on the Sports Performance club's top 18-year-old team with such big names as her Naperville North teammate, Colleen Ward, Joliet Catholic's Kelly Murphy, St. Francis' Michelle Kocher and Megan Barnicle and Wheaton Warrenville South's Becca Zlabis and Mollie Kolosky.
Wu's final college choices came down to Harvard and Northwestern, which upped its original offer from two years to three. By then, though, she was set on Harvard.
"My parents always said, 'Don't worry about the money. Choose the best school for you,' " said Wu, whose mom, Susan, is a computer engineer for Lucent, and dad, Toby, is an independent computer consultant.
Thanks to financial aid, the Wus expect to pay $20,000 to $30,000 instead of the roughly $45,000 it costs per year to attend Harvard. She's applying for scholarships, too. Her resume is two pages full of academic and athletic accomplishments.
Wu even plays piano. She played for nine years before stopping in high school because she was so busy but still had the chops after a crash refresher course to fill in last-minute to play Rascal Flatts' "Bless the Broken Road" at the summer wedding of Sports Performance coaches Sam Butler and Joe Bruzdzinski.
There isn't always enough hours in the day for Wu. Many times in the last four years she's stayed up all night doing homework and studying before going to school on no sleep.
Her pillow figures to get more breaks at Harvard.