Queens teen wins prestigious math honors

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

At only 14, Jena Yun knows the equation for success.

The 8th grader at Russell Sage Junior High School is captain of the school’s math team and the only New York City public school student in the National Society of Professional Engineers’ National upcoming Mathcounts competition in Washington, D.C.

She is also the only female in the contest.

“I never really expected it to get this far,” said Yun. “I’m definitely nervous.”

After placing fourth at the state Mathcounts competition in Albany, Yun was selected as one of four team members to compete in the national competition taking place May 9-12. She will work with two students from

Rochester and a student from the Bronx.

“It’s just humbling, it’s amazing,” said William Collins, who coaches Russell Sage’s math team. He added that whatever the outcome, “we’re so proud of her.”

On Monday, May 6, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott gave Yun an award for her success at the state competition. She also received a New York City Council Citation of Honor from Councilmember Karen Koslowitz.

“Behind all of it is studying and trying to get where you want,” Yun said. “It all pays off in the end.”

The middle schooler also received a $1,000 scholarship from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for being the first female to qualify in the competition.

“You hear about Russell Sage because it’s such a great school,” said Walcott. “These students are truly outstanding,”

After graduation, Yun will attend the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. She hopes to follow in her older sister’s footsteps by moving on to Princeton University.

Russell Sage’s math team started up 12 years ago with just three students. The team has since become a “family” with over 50 students from all grade levels.

“It’s just awesome,” said Principal Marilyn Grant. “It’s an unimaginable feeling.”