Lily Wushanley

Lily Wushanley

Lily Wushanley thinks there are probably just four people in the world with the last name of Wushanley. That would be her father, mother, older sister and her.

“That's because Wushanley is a combination of my father’s and mother’s last names. It’s definitely unique,’’ says the Penn Manor High School senior.

Wushanley’s father is Ying Wushanley, a professor of wellness and sports sciences at Millersville University, who was born and grew up in China as Ying Wu.

Her mother,  Geraldine Wushanley, a retired nurse, has Irish ancestry and grew up as Geraldine Shanley. When the couple married, they decided to combine their surnames — and cultures — and take the new last name of Wushanley.

“It's kind of a romantic story,’’ says Wushanley with a warm smile, adding that her family has been a great source of encouragement for her. “My mother says we are CIA, or Chinese Irish American.’’

When she was just 3, Wushanley saw one of her mother's best friends playing the cello. Even though the cello was bigger than she was, she set her heart on learning to play the big stringed instrument.

“Because I was too little to play it at 3, I had to wait until I was 5,’’  Wushanley says.

Once she got her chance, Wushanley proved that she did indeed have a gift for the cello. She started off with the Suzuki method taught by Carolyn Moyer, learning to play by ear, since she couldn't read music quite yet. That came soon after, and from then on the cello was a major part of her life.

She has played in the Penn Manor orchestra, the Regional Orchestra, and last year she won the Hershey Symphony Young Artist Concerto Competition. As one of five finalists chosen from those auditions, Wushanley was invited to perform Haydn's Cello Concerto in C major before a panel of judges, receiving a scholarship and a seat on the Hershey Symphony. At Penn Manor, she is an officer of the Tri-M music honors society.

Wushanley also plays cello in the Allegretto Youth Chamber Orchestra, which is an outgrowth of Allegro, the Chamber Orchestra of Lancaster. The elite youth orchestra is led by Brian Norcross, who is also conductor of instrumental music at Franklin & Marshall College. Members of the youth orchestra are guided by some of the area's finest musicians. Wushanley also studies with acclaimed cellist Sara Male.

“They say that the cello has a range of sound that is most like the human voice,’’ says Wushanley. “I just love playing the cello.’’

As much as she loves music, Wushanley is very involved in humanitarian and academic pursuits. She is president of the Young Humanitarian League at Penn Manor, and has worked on projects such as raising money for homeless children in Nicaragua and adopting an elementary school in Honduras. The organization also assists families in need through the Penn Manor Family Fund.

She already has decided on her college plans for next fall. She will be heading to Swarthmore College to study humanities or possibly a pre-med program. She hasn’t quite determined what her major will be, and she is also considering following in her father’s footsteps as a professor. Her older sister, Sophia, is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, studying philosophy.

“I am very interested in music, of course, as well as Spanish, biology and literature,’’ she says, adding that she is taking AP courses in literature, calculus and economics.

Wushanley is also fond of photography, and enjoys taking pictures of nature. Several of her friends have enlisted her to be the photographer for their senior pictures, which she has taken in various locations, with an eye toward capturing personality and interests.

She hopes to use her photographic talents in her travels. So far, she has been to Paris and Barcelona. She has traveled to Nicaragua and to many regions of Australia. She also has been to her mother’s homeland of Ireland to visit family, and to Scotland, where her mother once lived.

Oh, yes, and Wushanley loves ice cream. She has been working at Carmen & David’s Creamery for three years. Whenever she gets time to relax, she heads to the kitchen to bake. Her most requested recipe is for vegan banana chocolate chip cookies.

Laura Knowles is a correspondent for Lancaster Newspapers.