FOREST HILLS — A math whiz from Queens is headed to a national competition this week as both the only female student and public school student on the New York State team.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott visited Russell Sage Junior High School Monday morning to meet the school’s award-winning math team and to present a medal to one of its members, Jena Yun, who recently placed fourth at the state-level Mathcounts competition in Albany, qualifying her to represent New York State at the upcoming national competition in Washington, D.C.
The eighth-grader is the only female student on the four-member New York State team for Mathcounts, as well as the only public school participant.
“I didn’t believe it at first,” said Yun, of the moment when she heard her name called at the Albany competition as qualifying to move on to the national round. “I didn’t know what to do. Everyone was squeezing my arm and saying ‘Jena, Jena, it’s you!’”
William Collins, one of the math team’s coaches, said that they were elated at the news.
“It’s such a difficult competition. When it happened, we were all really dumbfounded,” he said. “It’s a really great feat for her.”
The Russell Sage math team participated in the state competition on March 17 after placing second within the Queens chapter. At the presentation, Walcott praised the group’s commitment to supporting each other.
“To the Russell Sage family — because it’s clear that you are a family — I just want to say how proud we are of you,” he said.
Yun will travel to D.C. on May 9 for the national Mathcounts competition. She is attending Phillips Exeter Academy next year on a full scholarship.