KU Scholar Athlete of the Month: Ethan Tan


It All Adds Up: 11 A.P. Classes, 2 State Titles

School: Dunbar High
GRADE: 12 SportS: Track, cross-country, swimming,
Academics: Ethan has a 4.7419 weighted GPA in the math-science program and has taken 11 A.P. classes.
Parents: May & Vincent





What’s the definition of a Scholar-Athlete? Look no further than the resume of Dunbar High senior Ethan Tan.


– 4.7419 weighted GPA in Dunbar’s prestigious Math-Science program

– 33 on the ACT

– 11 A.P. classes

– 11 A.P. classes!! That’s a record in 20 years of Scholar Athlete stories.

– A.P. Scholar with Distinction Award for scoring at least 3.5 on all A.P. tests.

– National Honor Society member

– Piano player (rock and pop)

– Tutor of middle and high school students

– Researcher at UK. Every other day he works in the lab, studying the protein AFP as a way to better diagnose liver cancer.

In sports, Ethan is a three-sport varsity athlete (track, swimming and cross-country). Because the academic demands are so stiff in the math-science program, it’s unusual to find students who play even one varsity sport.

Ethan does more than play. He’s a two-time state champion on Dunbar’s 4×400 relay team.

The 4×800 relay team has placed second and third in the state the past two years. The team is one of the favorites to win the State title this year.

In swimming, he has advanced to the Regional meet three years in a row, three times in the 100 breaststroke and once in the 200 IM.

As a sophomore, Ethan added cross-country as a way to improve his running… by running.

All three of his sports demand hours of conditioning – at least four miles a day, every day as a runner, and yards and yards of swimming during that season.

That means staying up into the wee hours after grueling track and swim practices to complete homework in calculus, physics, engineering, computer science and the like.

What’s the appeal of all that work?

“I like challenging myself,” Ethan said. “When I was a junior taking four A.P. classes, my counselor told me I didn’t need that many. Sometimes, I didn’t get enough sleep but it was quite an experience.”

His motivation in sports is simplicity itself – self-improvement.

“It’s all about dropping your time, plus I love passing people on the track,” he said.

His perseverance as an athlete impressed his parents.

“He really surprised me,” his father Vincent said. “Not a single day did he say, ‘I’m too tired’ or ‘It’s too painful.’ I was very proud to see how hard he ran.”

Ethan’s career ends this spring – he will focus on his studies at Purdue or UK  – but he’ll continue to train.

That’s just what Scholar Athletes do.