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Forest Hills HS grads get $1K tsunami scholarship

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In honor of his daughter, Hannah Lei Shi -- a Forest Hills alumnus who was the first New Yorker to be identified as a victim of December's devastating tsunami -- a quiet well-dressed Rong Shi handed $1,000 to the three students believed to embody Hannah's ambitious, responsible and altruistic character.The trio was selected from about 70 seniors involved in either the after-school club, Future Business Leaders of America, or the two-year in-class program, Preparation for Accounting and Career Exploration. Lei Shi, a precocious and active student, was in both. After graduating from Forest Hills in 1997 with the Future Business Leaders of America Service Award, Lei Shi moved on to New York University's Stern School of Business, eventually landing an associate's position in the Hong Kong office of the large Manhattan-based investment firm, Morgan Stanley.Earning a pretty penny, the rising finance star spent most of it supporting her parents, little sister and grandmother living in Rego Park.On Dec. 26, 2004, while vacationing in Thailand, Lei Shi was swept away by the towering earthquake-triggered waves that leveled much of Southeast Asia's coastline, killing up to 220,000 people.Five months after her death, Lei Shi's name was memorialized with the Forest Hills HS scholarship."The loss of my dear daughter was extremely painful," Rong Shi said after handing out the scholarships. "All we can do now is share her memory and spirit with her classmates."The recipients did indeed incorporate some of Lei Shi's tenacious qualities.Yanbo Tang is headed to Harvard on a full scholarship, where he will study economics in pursuit of a career in investment banking or international consulting. Dimitry Medvedev, who immigrated from Israel to Forest Hills in mid-sophomore year, will major in international relations and Arabic at the University of Michigan with hopes of working in diplomacy. Shi Hao Ling earned $8,500 in scholarships to attend Manhattan's Pace University, where he plans to spend two years before transferring to a business school.As the over-achieving Ling understated, "Well, I just try my best to live the American dream."Tang, a Chinese immigrant, and Medvedev, a Ukraine native, were members of FBLA while Ling, also from China, was in the PACE program.During the ceremony in the school's auditorium, Elena Halady, the PACE coordinator and FBLA adviser who made the selections, gave Rong Shi a term paper by his daughter that dissected the Coca-Cola Company, one of the countless assignments she aced, Halady recalled."Each year I held onto some papers because they were so outstanding," the now retired teacher said. "Hannah's was one of the few I kept."Reach reporter Zach Patberg by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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