Yin named a Presidential Scholar


MADISON — A Madison Central graduate is one of about 150 in the nation to be named a Presidential Scholar this year.

Matthew Landon Yin spent his entire education career in the Madison County Schools and was selected from among seven finalists as one of just two Presidential Scholars for Mississippi. 

“A lot of the ones I saw went to Jackson Prep or (Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science) and I am proud of the fact that I am a product of local public schools and was able to achieve something at this level,” Yin said.

Easily searchable records only go back to 2003 but Madison County School’s spokesperson Gene Wright said that Yin is the first Madison Central student in recent memory to be named a Presidential Scholar.

Yin attributes his success to a few key people in his life. One is his sister, Sunshine, also a Madison Central graduate. She is 16 years older and lives in California but Yin said she “is the definition of success” in his mind. She has always been there for him and because of the time difference, was always available for a late-night phone call when he needed help with an essay.

“She has always been there and always been so supportive,” Yin said.

Next are his parents, Jianjun Yin and Li Zhow, who Yin said were always willing to push their child and support him. He said they are a big reason he will be able to attend an Ivy League School in the fall.

“My parents are more than happy to send me to Penn,” Yin said.

Finally, Kristin Cooley, Yin’s 11-grade calculus teacher and his Star Teacher from last year when he was selected as a Star Student, has been a key mentor in his life.

“She always created a nurturing environment and was so dedicated to her students,” Yin said.

Cooley has been teaching for 24 years and has been at MCHS for three years. 

“He has just been a delight and a joy to teach. He is always excited about learning,” Cooley said. “I love him like one of my own children and he has made me a better teacher.”

Specifically, Yin said that Cooley used off-the-wall images and analogies to teach complex mathematical concepts. A “purple cloud” or “red jeep” may not have much mathematical significance on their face but Yin said that those are two images he will never forget that helped convey complex mathematical concepts.

Yin will study computer science at the University of Pennsylvania. He was drawn to the subject because he said coding, like math, challenges him like a puzzle.

“Like geometrical proofs, it is never straightforward but it is so enlightening to see that next step,” Yin said. “I like solving problems.”

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the President of the United States, to recognize and honor some of the nation's most distinguished graduating high school seniors.

Each year, up to 161 students are named as Presidential Scholars and the distinction is considered one of the nation's highest honors for high school students.

Yin was elected along with and Emmanuelle Rachel Tang of Oxford high School.

In his free time, Yin likes to work out and play chess and tennis. He also plays piano and has lately gotten into composing his own pieces.

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