Mixing business with English

<p>Karen Leung has a dirty mistress and a nasty addiction.</p>


Peel District pupil earns top marks



René Johnston/torstar news service


Karen Leung plans to attend Columbia University, where she will study English and economics.

Karen Leung has a dirty mistress and a nasty addiction.

“English is my true love, but economics is the dirty mistress that will make me employable,” she said jokingly, explaining the odd pairing of subjects she's chosen to study at Columbia University in September.

But this mix suits Leung just fine, because when she’s not reading she’s battling her addiction to Sudoku, a popular math puzzle.

While she admits she’s quirky, the 18-year-old modestly avoids talking about her success in the International Baccalaureate Programme at Turner Fenton Secondary School in Brampton, where she earned a 99.3 per cent average, the highest among Peel District students.

“Marks are the least important part of learning in class,” said Leung. “They’re a record of a very specific kind of achievement and nothing else.”

Leung is not your average teenager. Quirky is the word.

For Leung, politics is hilarious. She and her friends joke about the elimination of privacy, the erosion of civil rights, and the expansion of the executive power.

At the moment she’s not caught up in James Frey’s latest novel, rather Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita.

Getting a driver’s licence is the last thing on this teenager’s mind, because she has a phobia of driving.

Leung’s unique personality led to an interest in fiction writing, a place where she could express herself as openly as she’d like.

“I didn’t know any English when I moved to this country from Hong Kong when I was three, and when I learned it, I fell in love with it,” she said.

When asked what it is about the English language that she loves, she said Bernard Malamud, a classic author, put it perfectly in an interview when he said “I’d be too moved to say.”

Leung founded Verso, a student magazine that acted as a more personal alternative to the school newspaper, filled with opinion pieces, non-fiction and poetry.

In addition to Verso, she spread herself over to the world of business, taking part in DECA, a student marketing association. She and her four teammates travelled to the international competition in Dallas and faced 40 teams from around the world.

When Leung finally opened up about her success in school, she attributed it to paying attention in class.

“When you pay attention, you don’t really have to study that much, you remember.”

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