Student Spotlight: Grace Yijun Zhao

Grace Zhao is a senior at Regina Dominican High School. Grace is an extremely hard-working and devoted Honor Roll student who is always pushing herself to do better. Grace consistently has excellent grades and has worked very hard on preparing for the TOEFL and SAT exams.  She has so far been accepted to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Purdue University, but she has not yet made up her mind where she would like to attend college next year.  Grace thinks the key to being an excellent student, and the main reason she is so successful, is to always complete your homework on time and to do it at school right after school when possible.


Grace has been very involved with school activities since arriving at Regina in the fall of 2016.  Grace is a key member of the WYSE (Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering) team.  At WYSE competitions, each student competes in two subjects out of Biology, Chemistry, English, Mathematics and Physics. At the Regional competition in February, Grace won the first-place medal in both Math and Physics. At the Sectional competition in March, Grace placed 3rd place in Math and 2nd place in Physics   Regina’s WYSE team will compete in the State Final at the University of Illinois in April.  Grace is also a member of the school’s International Club, which hosts several activities throughout the year that are meant to encourage cross-cultural communication and exchange.  This has been a great outlet for international students to share their cultures with American students and learn about other cultures.  The club plans to visit the Greek-American museum and go to a Greek restaurant after spring break.


Grace is a naturally shy person, something that she has worked very hard to overcome in her two years here.  Grace struggled last year to open up to her host family, something that at times caused some friction.  This year, Grace moved in with a new host family who was very patient and let Grace come out of her shell on her own time.  Grace has really flourished in this home, where she lives with two host brothers and one other international student.  Grace stayed in the area for her winter break and spent Christmas with her host family. The host family says that they went to a family member’s home for dinner on Christmas and when they had returned, they found that Grace had gone out to a local store to purchase small, fun gifts for all the members of the family to show her appreciation for the gifts and cards the hosts had given her. The host mother was incredibly touched and very surprised.  The host family even included Grace in their Christmas card photo this year!  Recently, Grace’s 4-year-old host brother made a Valentine for his whole family and included Grace as his “sister.”  We are so proud of how hard Grace has worked to become a part of an American family.


Another activity that helped Grace to open up more, was attending the school’s “Kairos” retreat with her fellow seniors in October. Grace did not originally want to attend the retreat, but she said after that she really enjoyed it and was glad she went. It ended up being a great bonding experience for her with her classmates and helped her to meet more American students as well as make closer friendships with the international students.


Grace has been dedicated this year to completing several service projects.  In September she volunteered with other Cambridge students to help supervise games for young children at a local Barn Dance and Bonfire.  Grace has become very adept at interacting with young children and she was a great help at this event.  Grace also dedicated time over her winter vacation to completing service projects.


Grace has blossomed into an all-around wonderful person.  Regina is proud to call her a soon-to-be alumnus and she is a credit to Cambridge’s program as well.  We are excited to see where she decides to move on to next!


Regina Dominican High School

Regina Dominican is an all-girls, college preparatory high school that inspires young women to lead and serve.  Regina Dominican focuses on helping girls excel by fostering academic excellence, creating an inclusive, friendly environment, and challenging each student to develop leadership skills for life. In addition to a private college preparatory education, they prepare our students for their future careers, relationships, and life.


For over 50 years, Regina Dominican has reinforced leadership and confidence in over 9,800 women through a rigorous education. As a result, alumnae can be found throughout the world working in a variety of positions including CEOs, judges, attorneys, nurses, doctors, teachers, and mothers of future generations. The school has graduated over 9,800 women.


A recent Cornell University study found that only 4% of female students choose a college major in engineering, mathematics or the physical sciences, compared to 12% of male students. Regina Dominican students are changing this story. 50% of Regina Dominican’s Class of 2017 chose a college major in engineering, mathematics, physical sciences or health fields. That is a difference of 46% over the national average!


Students enrolled in single-sex environments report having more confidence than their peers at coeducational institutions. Some even report that their college professors can spot an all-girls school graduate.


  • 91% of the Class of 2017 was accepted to their first choice of university.
  • 20% of the members of the Class of 2017 were named Illinois State Scholars (The national average is 10%).
  • 50% of the Class of 2017 chose a college major in engineering, mathematics, physical sciences or health fields.


Wilmette, Illinois and the North Shore of Chicago

The Village of Wilmette is a “North Shore” town located on the scenic shores of Lake Michigan, 23 kilometers north of Chicago’s downtown district (just 6 kilometers from the north end of the city).  It’s recognized as a family-centered community that values education very highly. Many families move here specifically for the excellent schools.


Wilmette is also known for its rich public opportunities, including an outstanding park system with recreation programs and events, beautiful beaches for swimming and sailing, and an excellent public library.


The town of Wilmette, Illinois sits next to the campus of Northwestern University, a top U.S. university. The wealthy suburb of Wilmette features tree-lined streets, historical homes, and stately mansions.  There are also many interesting shops and wonderful restaurants. Wilmette is well-known around Chicago as a safe, beautiful and prosperous neighborhood.  The U.S. magazine Business Week ranks Wilmette as 7th on their list of best places to raise children in the U.S.


Regina Dominican offers a great education and Wilmette is a beautiful community for a wonderful American experience. We look forward to welcoming new students to this fantastic program!


If you’re a Cambridge Network member school, host family or student and would like to share your story, please contact Katie Chen at [email protected].