Teen wins national scholarship

Nearly 100,000 students around the country applied for the $20,000 Coca-Cola Scholarship this year, and only 150 winners were chosen. Irvine teen Katherine Wong is one.

She got the news while on a family vacation in Utah.

“Me and my mom kind of screamed,” she says, adding that they then ran to buy a Coke at the hotel vending machine to celebrate.

Wong is putting her $20,000 scholarship toward tuition at Stanford University, where she is majoring in biology.

The scholarship is for students who “not only exemplify superior leadership, service and academics – they are change agents, positively affecting others in their communities.”

Wong, who lives in Northpark Village, graduated last spring from the Orange County School of the Arts, where she founded Hominum Journal, a literary magazine of creative writing, poetry and art.

She also tutored fellow students in writing and used her earnings to start a community service organization called STEM the Art. The idea: use the arts to teach fun after-school STEM activities (making baking soda paint, for instance) to students in lower socioeconomic schools. Her organization has also donated nearly 2,000 STEM the Art activity packages to orphanages in Mexico and a special-needs school in Taiwan, which is where she was born.

In her spare time (wink, wink), Wong participated in international piano competitions at Carnegie Hall in Manhattan and Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria.

Sounds like Coca-Cola got it right.