Eileen Gu ’17

Eileen Gu ’17 is likely the youngest alumna we have ever profiled in Burke’s Magazine, but this is the time to learn her name — if you don’t already know it. While studying at Burke’s, Eileen won nine USASA age division and open class national contests in Colorado between April 2013 and April 2018.

She just finished competing at a World Cup in Calgary in February, where she became the first freeskier in history (all ages, men/women) to win two different World Cup events at the same venue. The awards were her second Slopestyle World Cup gold medal and her first Halfpipe World Cup win. In January, Eileen won three medals (two golds and a silver) at the Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland, and has been recognized by InStyle magazine as the youngest recipient of the Women of Times award. An extraordinary talent, she will graduate from University High School in June and spend the next 17 months training for the Beijing Olympics. In 2022, Eileen will compete for China in celebration of her heritage, though she is always quick to honor her American upbringing and express appreciation for all of her friends and experiences from training with US Ski & Snowboard. Excited about the once-in- a-lifetime opportunity to promote the sport she loves in the country where her mom was born, Eileen says, “If I can help to inspire one young girl to break a boundary, my wishes will have come true.” A Burke’s girl through and through!

“Burke’s taught me to be unafraid of mistakes, unapologetic about doing what’s right, and confident in myself.”

What is your favorite memory from Burke’s?
 
There really are a lot, but the first one that comes to mind is the eighth-grade play. We worked so relentlessly on everything from the set and props to costumes and makeup, to our own acting and choreography, that the finished product felt so rewarding. Seeing everyone work together with a chemistry
that only nine years together can create was magical. Our play was Mary Poppins. I was Mary, one of my best friends was Bert, and we really outdid ourselves that night.

How would you encourage Burke’s students and alumnae to give back to Burke’s?

I would encourage them to stay connected. I believe that while funding and other resources can be powerful, time and knowledge are ultimately much more valuable. Going back and speaking at an assembly, giving advice to a new student, or simply staying caught up with the KayDeeBee (now Burke’s Magazine!) are all great ways to keep in touch with our roots.

What Burke’s experiences do you attribute to your personal or professional success?

When I was nine years old, I was the only girl on my ski team. But having been told time and time again that everyone deserves equality and a fair chance, I entered unafraid, made some of my best friends, and ultimately became a professional athlete. In seventh grade, I gave my speech on gender equality in sports, which was later used as the voiceover for the new Adidas Women’s golf commercial. Burke’s taught me to never give up, to remain confident in my own abilities, and to make the change I wanted to see in the world.

If you had to do it all over again, your time at Burke’s and since, what might you do differently?

I would slow down and take it all in. Just like many seventh and eighth graders, my mind was on high school. Those last two years are the culmination of everything we’ve been through together, and they deserve to be cherished as much or more than the years before it. While things can get hectic, staying present is key.

What three words or phrases come to mind when you hear “Katherine Delmar Burke School”?

Continued community, joyful learning, and courageous confidence. After Burke’s, I continued to stay in touch with my classmates, many of whom I call my best friends to this day. The term “community” is used frequently at Burke’s; the idea of a school unified through some type of sisterhood is not new. However, it really is the long-lasting connection and trust that only nine years together can build that truly resonates with me.
At the time, I really did take Burke’s teachers for granted. I assumed all teachers would be as passionate, educated, and motivated as the teachers that I had at Burke’s. The true desire that teachers had to better educate both Burke’s girls and themselves impresses me to this day. Burke’s upholds consistent standards from the first day of kindergarten to the last day of eighth grade. Those years are truly transformational, and ones in which lifelong imprints can be made. From handmade cartoons displayed in the lunchroom to in- depth discussions in the classroom, students will always be armed with strong morals and a multi-faceted understanding of themselves and the world around them.

What would you tell incoming kindergarten families about the journey ahead?

I would remind them that while nine years seems like a long time, it passes in a breeze. I hope that they can remember to stay present and ensure their kids have the best chance to enjoy it while it lasts. 
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Burke's mission is to educate, encourage and empower girls. Our school combines academic excellence with an appreciation for childhood so that students thrive as learners, develop a strong sense of self, contribute to community, and fulfill their potential, now and throughout life.

Burke’s

An independent K–8 school for girls
7070 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94121
Phone: 415.751.0177 Fax: 415.666.0535
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