What does it mean to you to be in the top 10?
It feels like a culmination of everything that I did in high school because I didn’t really expect it. I know I get good grades, so I was expecting top 10% or even top 5%. I just remember checking Naviance, and seeing my rank, and I was in the top 10. I was shocked to say the least because I thought everyone was 10 times better than me. It was just cool to realize that my own success did actually come to fruition. It’s mostly a measure for me. I wouldn’t be any less successful if I weren’t ranked.
What advice do you have for younger students?
There’s so much more to life than your GPA, and that’s something I’ve been really bad about over high school, even now as a senior in second semester. That’s the biggest thing that I would tell the younger kids: stop caring so much because at the end of the day your GPA is what it is, your rank is what it is, and you’re going to go to college, you’re going to end up with a degree, you’re going to end up with the job you want. Try and enjoy your high school years because you’re only going to be a kid once. It’s about the experience, not struggling your way to the top every time. Have fun doing what you’re doing.
What advice would you give your ninth-grade self?
Take it easy. Have fun. The biggest thing is really to just have fun because I’m looking back and I’m not going to be 18, 17, 16 again. I’m not going to have that again, and there’s things that I could have done at those ages. At a certain point, I have to be an adult, so enjoy not being an adult while you still can.
What is your most memorable part of high school?
Definitely senior year. The fact that junior year was entirely [virtual learning] and I didn’t see anyone, didn’t go out anywhere is a big part of why senior year is so special to me. Every day in junior year, honestly, was not great because I’d wake up, go to school, and just grind for hours on end, sleep at 1 a.m. every day. Now my extracurriculars are back in person. I’m going places after school. I got a job. I see my friends in person every day. I’m having a good time. It’s great realizing that I’m not an introvert.
What are your thoughts on the current education system and the college admissions process?
This year especially was very different in terms of admissions. A lot of it comes down to the fact that there’s only so many spots, and there’s so many qualified people. There’s definitely a lot of stock put into things that maybe don’t matter so much. We’re doing a good job of looking at things holistically now, especially as extracurriculars matter. It’s not just your GPA, your grades and your test scores. It’s cool to see that schools are dropping standardized testing requirements too, but at the same time if we’re going to keep dropping these things, what are you looking at now? I mean, you get what you get, after a point, you submit your application and it is just luck of the draw.
How have you worked towards this honor?
Like I said, I didn’t really expect it, so I wasn’t working with the mindset of being in the top 10. My goal was just max every class, and I definitely did not meet it. There were definitely classes that I second or third tiered, and I cared a little too much about grades looking back. If you just maintain As on average, you’re going to be up there. For me, academic success mattered, so I would work hard. I was studying for tests and working hard on anything that came my way because it meant a lot to me to be getting As. I generally just held myself to a very high standard.
What are your goals for the future? How do you think your hard work will contribute to that?
I’m majoring in public health, and the goal right now is definitely to get into medical school, be a doctor. In fact, Johns Hopkins for medical school would be absolutely amazing. At the same time, medicine is a lot of commitment, and commitment is great, but it’s a big chunk of your life. You’re not making that much money in the first few years, so, right now, that’s the goal. I’m going to go into college ready to explore in my first two years. After sophomore year, I think I’ll have a better handle on if that’s what I really want. Healthcare in general is the goal, so whether that means being a doctor or not is yet to be seen.
What is your secret to success?
The secret to success is a lack of sleep. No, I’m kidding. Please, sleep. Sleep is so important. That’s not my secret. I don’t know if I have a secret. I just like working hard and putting in the effort. It is so important to be willing to grind where it matters.
What is the hardest lesson you have learned?
Sometimes you can work really hard, and things still won’t turn up how you wanted. That lesson strikes everyone, and it hit me several times in high school, most recently being college admissions. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Sometimes it’s just luck. You have to remember that there’s a place for you in the world. It may not be the place you expected it to be, but it’s a good place and it’s there for you. That’s something my mom always tells me too. She says that I didn’t get what I wanted, not because someone took it from me, but that my place is out there somewhere, and I just have to find it.
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