Troy Athens graduate wins prestigious award

By: Mark Vest | Troy Times | Published July 18, 2012

 Darwin Hsu

Darwin Hsu

It has been quite the summer vacation for Darwin Hsu, as drinking milk appears to have paid off in more ways than one for the recent Troy Athens graduate.

As part of the “Got Milk?” ad campaign, more than 30,000 applications were submitted for the SAMMY (Scholarship Athlete Milk Mustache of the Year) award. Only 25 high school seniors from around the country can lay claim to the award each year, and the Class of 2012 includes Hsu.

Hsu knew that a lot of applications were submitted, so when he received an email informing him that he was one of the award winners, he made sure to read it twice to make sure what he thought he saw the first time was real. Indeed it was, and now Hsu is happy he took the time to submit his application, despite being unsure that anything would ever come of it.

“I couldn’t believe I was one of the winners,” he said. “I just applied for it thinking it would be really cool to win, but I never actually expected to. When I actually did, it was ‘wow.’ It made me really grateful I committed time to athletics and academics. Not because I got the award, but because it really defines who you are as a person. What SAMMY promotes — it’s all part of a healthy lifestyle, and one I want to continue the rest of my life. The fact they recognized it makes me really grateful to them and my parents for supporting me throughout the years.”

Winning a SAMMY award is far from a walk in the park, as student-athletes who win the award are required to have excelled in athletics, as well as in the classroom. Community service and leadership are also taken into account, as well as an everyday intake of milk.

Hsu’s state title in swimming, graduating at the top of his class and community work all helped him win the award.

His state title came via winning the 100-meter breaststroke for his club team, the Motor City Aquatics. Academically, Hsu has taken 14 AP classes and two college level courses.

Hsu’s community service includes volunteering for the National Honor Society, as well as founding Club Wall Street, a non-profit organization that helps teach community members how to save, plan and invest their finances.

Aside from the satisfaction of merely being named as one of the award winners, the extra perks that come along with it aren’t exactly a bad deal, either.

Recipients receive a $7,500 college scholarship, and along with the other winners, Hsu was part of a “Got Milk?” ad which appeared in USA Today June 29. But as much as he may like those rewards, Hsu’s favorite part of the experience was attending the awards ceremony, which took place at Disney World.

“It was really cool,” he said. “Chauncey Billups was there, and Jennie Finch was there. Basically, what they talked about was the best thing that can ever happen to you is failure. Failure’s what sets you (up) for future successes. They really emphasized never be down by your failures, but always keep them in mind, and that’s what’s going to prepare you better for the future. It was inspiring.”

Hsu is headed to Harvard in the fall, where he intends to major in economics or statistics.

While at college, as well as in his life in general, he plans to apply some of what he heard from Billups and Finch. According to Hsu, winning the award has helped to instill a belief that anything is possible.

“At the end of the day, you just try to put your best foot forward,” he said. “You try to work your hardest. Winning this just solidifies that anything can happen. It shows me that there’s probably a lot of other qualified applicants who work hard every day, and if I do the same thing, my time will come.”