Despite the financial obstacles in his way, the latest HealthPlus Amerigroup/NY1 Scholar Athlete of the Week is excelling in every aspect of school life. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.
Sun Lin derives his motivation to succeed from a very personal place.
"I always been living in a poor family so, I have a twin sister and only my mother is in America, my father is in China, so the family has gone through much hardship throughout the years," says Sun.
His father moved back to China when Sun was only five. His mother works nearly 12 hour days in a textile factory.
"Watching her doing all this work for us make me feel kind of sad in a way, because she shouldn't be doing this," Sun says.
So Sun dedicated himself to his studies, determined to one day make enough money to take care of his mother.
He's the valedictorian at Flushing High School. It's something his freshman year world history teacher says she knew would happen.
"Second week of school I told him that, and he thought it was just funny: His writing ability, his exams and the fact that he was so well rounded, I wasn't surprised," says history teacher Tessa Frank.
Sun was determined to make himself as attractive to colleges as possible, so in order to keep building his resume, he joined the tennis team and became an invaluable member.
"He's dependable, responsible, great sportsmanship, you can always count on him to be there, always," says tennis coach Tara McManus.
Another part of Sun's impressive high school career is his role in the jazz band. He learned the flute from his father, and the instrument brings back memories.
"It feels sad in a way but I also feel happy because in a few years when I turn 21 I can bring him back to America and we can all be a family again," says Sun.
Even though he is so focused on making life better for his family, his teachers say he also does his best to help his fellow students.
"He's always patient, he's always willing to help, he never hesitates to walk over to somebody and say, 'Do you need something from me?'" says math teacher Judy Mui.
Sun is headed to SUNY Stony Brook in the fall to major in computer science, which is his passion. But he never losses sight of his goal.
"To work hard means to have a better future and to have a better job, which means more money, and more money means I can help my mother in the future," Sun says.
So, for already overcoming tremendous hardship while continuing to fight for his family, Sun Lin is the latest HealthPlus Amerigroup/NY1 Scholar Athlete of the Week.