A Reflection on High School

Introduction

The onslaught of college decisions have been an interesting time in many ways, both bad and good, and remind me that my tenure in high school is drawing to a close. Celebrate the victories, and drink to the losses. As my friend Arjun puts it, “You just have to roll with the punches.” Except in this case, you’re stuck in a ring with the admission committee equivalent of Mike Tyson. But I digress.

It’s true what they say: “High school will pass in the blink of an eye.” And yet, in this blink of an eye, every moment passed like a dream.

When I graduated Suzanne Middle School in May of 2012, I could never have anticipated everything that was to come. And all of the things and people that would throw my world upside down in the absolute best way possible.

CHAPTER 1: FRESHMAN YEAR 2012–2013

I kicked off my freshman year by plunging into the chaos of high school, which was at the time incredibly daunting, as I dove into the fray of the unknown.

And yet, my freshman year painted the perfect beginning to my high school career.

Most Memorable Facets (in no particular order):
1) Bryan Min’s departure from the United States to South Korea
2) Falling for a girl and subsequently failing miserably at sustaining any form of a substantive relationship.
3) Jumping off a 60 foot cliff.
4) Having my friends organize a quinceanera (quinceanero?) for my 15th birthday and promptly getting caked at said event.

CHAPTER 2: SOPHOMORE YEAR 2013–2014

As I transitioned into a sophomore at Walnut High School, I confronted many personal demons in the forms of insecurity, doubt, and inadequacy. But this year was perfectly flawed in all the right ways–it allowed me to overcome these hurdles and thus refined me into a stronger individual. By taking these challenges head on, I overcame them and became infinitely stronger because of it. My sophomore year was definitively my most emotional formative year.

While 10th grade was marred by personal crises, it was most definitely not disaster after disaster–there were a countless number of critical moments that came to mold me into the individual I am today. Some of these include my entrance into Interact as a group leader, my introduction to Operation Smile, and the fleshing-out of my most cherished friendships.

Most Memorable Facets (in no particular order)
1) Becoming a group leader in WHS Interact
2) Falling into a moderate depression that ultimately refined me into a stronger individual.
3) Joining Operation Smile.
4) Beginning my short stint as treasurer of the Black Student Union.
4) Traveling to Ireland to the ISLC 2014.
5) Traveling to Taiwan to discover my roots (part 1).
6) Traveling to Hong Kong to discover my roots (part 2).
7) Discovering the beauty of shooting 35mm film, and beginning my journey as a photographer.
8) Held our last Collective Finances Christmas get-together.
9) Joining “Character Crew” as the only member from Walnut High School.
10) Very first Interact Induction Dinner & Welcome Back Dinner.
11) Kung Fu Dunk!
12) Interact Food Baskets 2013!

CHAPTER 3: JUNIOR YEAR 2014–2015

Junior year, despite what they say, shaped up to become more of a tour de force than anything. It was the year I discovered what I was truly capable of and found the passions that make me come alive.

Between the slew of academic rigors and extracurricular pressure, I spent every waking moment working–and I loved every minute of it. From turning a girl into a lesbian to organizing the very first WHS InterKey Charity Dinner, junior year was a fantastic year that captivated and excited me at every turn.

This was the year that truly made me conscious of everything I was capable of and everything I was not. If sophomore year could be compared to pressure cooking carbon into diamond, then junior year could be compared to mining that diamond out of the quarry.

Most Memorable Facets (in no particular order):
1) Becoming the president of Walnut HS Interact.
2) Co-founding WHS Operation Smile with Joy Cai. 
3) Joining Operation Smile SoCal Region Board.
4) Organizing Walnut’s first InterKey Charity Dinner, Light the Night, with Kelly Seto. 
5) MC’ing at Operation Smile’s Charity Brunch, Rise & Smile. 
6) Discovering Interact 5170–which eventually introduced me to dozens of lifelong friends and experiences. 
7) Attending Interact Symposium at Camp Arrowhead.
8) Attending the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards at Camp Arrowhead.
9) Short spree of dating until I found my first real relationship (because of which I traveled excessively to San Jose).
10) Traveling to Northern California with Chris Wang & Orlando Chen via Greyhound, the world’s shittiest transportation provider. I kid you not, a person was arrested on our way up to Oakland; the buses reeked of urine.
11) Becoming proficient with Photoshop to create flyers.
12) Continuing my journey with photography and improving dramatically in both composition and color synergy. 
13) Being roped into organizing a music/speech contest (Moonlight Sonata, anyone?) with Kelly Seto.
14) Beginning my first real relationship, from which I grew from tremendously and will always hold in a special place in my heart.
15) Getting kicked out of the Black Student Union. 
16) Leading the chaos of Club Fair 2014.
17) Navigating Braviroff’s series of refusals to grade papers.
18) Interact Food Baskets 2014!
19) Being awarded “Outstanding New Club 2015” at Operation Smile’s ISLC 2015.

CHAPTER 4: SENIOR YEAR 2015–2016

If sophomore year created the diamond and junior year mined it, then senior year polished and honed it.

My senior year was (and is, at the time of writing) in essence my victory lap–the hardest part was over, allowing my to focus further on my pursuits beyond academia (namely photography, friendships, and perspective).

Most Memorable Facets (in no particular order):
1) Flying to San Jose with Kathy, Sarah, Cat, and Casey to the FLC of our sister district, 5170.
2) Organizing our 2nd annual InterKey Charity Dinner, New Heights. Hosted over 400 people in total. 
3) Founding Interact District 5300’s District Council.
4) Speaking at a corporate sponsor event hosted by Free the Children and the Clippers. I had the opportunity to present to executives such as Steve Ballmer from Microsoft, American Airlines, and Fox Sports about youth empowerment and involvement.
5) Having the most emotionally powerful Christmas get-together with my Interact family. 
6) Figuring out my color-processing workflow after months of trial & error!
7) Interact Summer Retreat 2015.
8) Recognized as a youth leader at We Day 2016! (Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to the event.)

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