DES MOINES, Iowa — Senior Des Moines East High School student Alex Liu is a trailblazer. “I’m a first-generation American and a first-generation college student,” said Liu.
He is also enrolled in AP Computer Science at Central Academy in Des Moines. “It really makes you think. It’s like learning a new language, except this time it’s through technology and will lead to changes in the future,” he said.
In January, his classmates were encouraged to apply for the Amazon Future Engineer Pathway Scholarship. On April 2, he found out he became one of the first honorees in the nation with a scholarship of $10,000, renewable for up to four years. “It’s mind blowing, given the odds. There’s a lot of people in this country and to think I was one of them, it’s crazy,” Liu said.
Just 100 students who are pursuing a career in computer science were honored, but there’s a good chance no one would have known if it weren’t published recently in the New York Times. “He’s the perfect kid. Does everything you ask him to do, but he’s not going to tell you much unless you ask,” said Central Academy teacher Scott Schoneberg.
The potential $40,000 scholarship may not even be the most valuable piece. It comes with a paid internship at Amazon following his freshmen year of college. “I think working under Amazon will give me a pretty good experience into what the world is like and what I can do,” said Alex.
Alex’s journey began at River Woods Elementary. He then went to Weeks Middle School and this spring he’ll graduate from East High School. He says Des Moines Public Schools have been a stepping stone to his success. “They have a lot of good programs that start you off young and continuing on in high school and prepares you for that next big step.”
Alex is used to making a splash. He is also a four-time state swim meet qualifier. Alex said, “I also set five school records.” It’s fitting that he’s used to finding his own lane of success. “I’m making a name for my family. Carving that path to success and securing a bright future for future generations to come.”
Alex will also receive a full academic scholarship to Tufts University in Massachusetts.