When he started reading at 2-years-old, Henry Hein’s parents suspected he was a smart kid.
When he’d read more than 330 accelerated reading books in kindergarten at Myrtle Beach Primary School, they knew it.
When he was 3-years-old, Hein started reading and writing in Burmese, and mastered Spanish at 7-years-old.
His recent third-place win in the national 2019 Trig-Star Competition and Scholarship Program makes him the first South Carolinian to place in this competition in 26 years.
In addition to that national award, he placed first in the local and state competitions.
The 15-year-old high school senior skipped fourth and seventh grades, and goes to the Scholars Academy, with CF his base high school.
Hein lives in Covington Lake with his mother, Khin Sadar Yee, who practiced family health in her native Burma, and his father, Kyaw Hein, a hospitalist at McLeod Loris Seacoast.
With enough college credits to graduate high school with an associate’s degree, he’s thinking about Clemson or USC where he’ll pursue a bio-chemical degree.
With 10 physicians in his family, it’s no surprise that he plans to go into the medical field, possibly radiology.
In addition to his parents, both paternal grandparents, two uncles, and four aunts are all physicians.
“It’s not only part of my family, I’ve always had an interest in helping people to a better state of health,” he says.
Hein’s awards, accomplishments and recognitions are myriad. This year, he’s a National AP Scholar, and AP Scholar with Distinction, a USC-Aiken Scholar, a Wofford Scholar, a Junior Fellow Scholar with Presbyterian College and a Furman Scholar.
He’s gotten two first-place and one third-place award from this year’s Horry County Schools Technology Fair.
He’s placed in the state Science Olympiad, the MathWorks Modeling Challenge and the American Mathematics Competition.
He has a total of 335 community service hours, and earned the City of Myrtle Beach Volunteer Appreciation Recognition in 2018.
He earned a second-degree black belt in Soo Bahk Do and as the player with the highest GPA, he earned a boys’ varsity tennis academic award.
He also had perfect attendance in 2016 - ’17.
Jennifer Zhang, who sponsors the math club Hein joined as a freshman, describes him as “a very kind young man that has a great sense of humor.”
Zhang says Hein has helped her tutor, and doesn’t hesitate to ask questions of his own.
“He always questions things, and wants to understand why things are the way they are,” she says.
“Math,” Hein says, “is fun when you get the right answer in a way that’s satisfying, and sometimes math allows you to explore possibilities and the limits of the problem.”
He has the most fun with math, he says, when he uses creative methods to find an answer that’s definite.
Yee points out that her son isn’t only academically gifted, he’s also gotten artistic awards, including first place in the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Contest when he was 8-years old and first place in the Earth Day at the Bay poster contest when he was a student at Ocean Bay Middle School.
Graphic design and 3D modeling are particular favorites, and music is a large part of Hein’s life.
“I like all kinds, especially lo-fi, a new genre that’s electronic and pretty chill,” he says.
His time at the Scholars Academy, he says, hasn’t been as much about academics as it’s been about friendships and personal growth.
“The extreme smart part of me has gone unnoticed because that isn’t the focus here,” he says about the academy. “The focus is about what you can do with your mind and your interests and your hobbies.”
And, for Hein, it’s also been about what he calls lifelong friends he knows he’ll keep for decades.
He says he’s been fortunate that even though he’s two years younger than most other seniors, he’s “been able to blend in with the maturity level of the others.”
Participating in the recent Trig-Star competition helped him “learn the fruits of hard work” and raised his awareness of surveying and engineering careers, he says.
“Whatever he does, he does perfectly,” his mother says. “He gives it attention and he pays attention.”