News

Print this page RSS FeedRSS Feed

Triumph Over Tragedy

By Megan Christopher MPW '11
November 1, 2010

Steve Zhou. Photo credit Phil Channing.

Steve Zhou. Photo credit Phil Channing.

Steve Zhou

Major: Biochemistry

Activities: Executive Council Member, Henry M. Gunn Student Council; First-place Winner, 2008 U.S. Open Showcase Solo for Senior Division Piano; Board Member, Interact Club

After the fourth student at his Palo Alto, Calif., high school commits suicide in six months, Steve Zhou takes action.

He helps organize an open-mic forum on campus, Lyrical Love, in which participants can share their feelings through stories and songs, opening with “This Little Light of Mine.”

Holding hands, they belt out, “I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!”

“Even if someone had a terrible voice or didn’t know all the words, all of us were singing,” Steve recalls. “There was such a feeling of community. We hugged, waved our hands in the air. We felt our spirits lifting.”

Though the deaths affected everyone at Henry M. Gunn High School, Steve was devastated that a friend he’d known since middle school was among the dead. He worried about two other friends who suffered from depression and had already attempted suicide.

Some blamed the school and speculated that high levels of stress led the teens to step in front of passing commuter trains. Steve and his classmates banded together in challenging misconceptions and reached out to one another through words and actions.

“From my experience, I’m the happiest when I’m around people who care about me,” Steve says. “When I don’t feel supported, I feel alone. That’s the importance of forming a tight-knit community. It helps when you’re there for each other.”

Steve co-founded the Gunn Recognition Group that spotlights unsung student heroes. He helped organize fundraisers for a suicide prevention peer-counseling group selling “Talk to Me” T-shirts.

At USC College, Steve wants to mentor high school students in the surrounding community. His dream is to become a doctor, and after his experience at Gunn, he’s interested in psychiatry.

“There will be some kind of human interaction in what I do,” Steve says.

Emerging from the tragedies at Gunn, he feels like a different person.

“A friend isn’t just someone to hang out with,” he said. “I listen more. I can sit down and talk. I’d like to reach out somehow at USC and in L.A.”

 

Steve Zhou

Major: Biochemistry
Activities: Executive Council Member, Henry M. Gunn Student Council; First-place Winner, 2008 U.S. Open Showcase Solo for Senior Division Piano; Board Member, Interact Club

 

Read more articles from USC College Magazine's Fall 2010/Winter 2011 issue