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6th Annual Student Spotlight

May 01, 2013 08:50AM, Published by Style, Categories: Wellness, In Print


Photos by Dante Fontana, © Style Media Group.



This month—in Style’s yearly posting of high-achieving (an understatement) high school seniors—we give you our picks for local teens who always set the pace, both in the classroom and on the playground. Get inspired by the words and accomplishments of these 2013 super-graduates.  

Aaron Downs

Oak Ridge High School

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a fairly easy-going guy who loves sports, shoes and cooking. I also love making people laugh and being around a lot of people in general. I’m a very happy person and am content just sitting at home reading a book or driving to Tahoe and going snowboarding. I also like to learn theoretical physics.

What are your school interests and involvements, hobbies and awards/achievements?

My school interests are centered on science and math, since those are my two favorite subjects. I am in the WaTa (Walk the Talk) Club, which is an environmental conservation club where members take samples of a local creek and send their observations to the scientific community. I also participate in National Honor Society and volunteer at Marshall Medical Hospital in Placerville.

What accomplishment are you most proud of and why?

My biggest accomplishment is finishing calculus AB online through Johns Hopkins University. The class was extremely difficult, especially because it was my first online class—coupled with the fact that calculus itself is a monster of a subject. Thankfully, I completed the class in two months and am now enrolled in calculus BC at my high school.

What’s one thing that not many people know about you?

I’m a huge Lord of the Rings and Star Wars nerd; I love talking about both and re-reading/re-watching them.

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to attend UC San Diego and major in humon biology.

Who is your role model?

My role model would be my cousin Mark. Through all of the tough times in his life he has persevered no matter how difficult. Despite those trying times he is now very happy and having a wonderful life, and I can only hope I will be as happy as him someday. I’m so thankful I can relate to such an amazing guy.

Describe your career aspirations.

I want to be a surgeon. I have no idea what kind of surgeon yet, but I hope that once I get into college and have more experience with the medical industry, I will be able to make a choice that makes me happy.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

I would go to Europe. No country in Europe specifically—just anywhere on the continent. I love the different languages and cultures in that area of the world and would love to see and experience them firsthand.

 

Rebecca Dudley

Rebecca Dudley

Oak Ridge High School

Tell us about yourself.

I like to think that I strive toward Coco Chanel’s words: “A girl must be two things: classy and fabulous.” I’m bubbly, optimistic and friendly, and I try to be a pleasant and interesting person. I love music, musical theater and books. Most of the time—in my head—I’m either living in a Jane Austen novel or as Elle Woods from Legally Blonde.

What are your school interests and involvements, hobbies and awards/achievements?

I love music and performing; I think music expresses emotions better than any other medium, and performing in front of an audience is exhilarating and creates a feeling that cannot be duplicated. I’ve been involved with my school’s choir program for all four years of high school, and this year I’m co-chorale president, a student director and wardrobe coordinator. I’m involved in my school’s drama program (I earned an Oak Ridge Excellence in Entertainment Award for my role as Yente in Fiddler on the Roof), and I’m also a member of Proscenium Performing, a local touring company. In addition, I play and teach piano, play the flute, and love to sing. Other than music, I’m the president of my school’s Link Crew—a peer-mentoring group that helps freshmen and new students transition to high school; for my work with Link Crew I received the community Youth Star Award last winter.

What accomplishment are you most proud of and why?

I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve been able to accomplish so much and be so successful in high school, while still having fun and spending time with awesome friends and an amazing family.

What’s one thing that not many people know about you?

Most people probably don’t know that I’m hilarious; they don’t know this because I seem to be the only person who finds myself funny.

What are your plans after graduation?

I will be attending Brigham Young University-Provo in the fall and am currently planning to major in international relations.

Who is your role model?

My most amazing mother!

Describe your career aspirations.

I plan to attend law school and become an international lawyer dealing with global macroeconomics. My dream is to someday be a diplomat or a judge.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

If I could only go to one place, it would be France; although, I dream of one day being able to travel the beautiful world.

 

Beomyun (Victoria) Han

Beomyun (Victoria) Han

Oak Ridge High School

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a daughter, a sister, a friend, a student, a golfer and a dreamer…usually in that order.

What are your school interests and involvements, hobbies and awards/achievements?

I’ve been on the varsity girls’ golf team for four years, and a team captain for two. I’m also involved in Link Crew, a peer-counseling club, and I tutor math and science. I received the local Youth Star Award for scholastic and extracurricular activities and have also been a section champion for Division I girls’ golf.

What accomplishment are you most proud of and why?

I’m most proud of creating my own peer-counseling club at school. It has always been a goal of mine to be able to bring comfort to others and allow them to trust and confide in me.

What’s one thing that not many people know about you?

Not many people know that I played the role of Jasmine in my elementary school’s musical production of Aladdin. When I was younger, I had extreme stage fright, but my passion for performing in the musical helped me overcome my fear. This is, and will always be, one of my greatest achievements and memories.

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation, I plan to go to a university and major in human psychology, sociology or business. I’m also tempted to dabble in English literature or Greek mythology. My interests tend to be all over the board. In the future, I’d like to be a psychiatrist or involved in public relations, just to be able to work with people. I’m also interested in the advertising industry and its foundation in human psychology.

Who is your role model?

My role model is anyone who is truly happy. I think that the greatest accomplishment in life is happiness. Throughout all of the stress and expectations that are self-inflicted, as well as suggested by society, it’s difficult for one to reach or even realize true happiness. Pursuing your dreams, surrounding yourself with people who love you, and being on a path to a hard-earned and well-deserved goal—these things constitute happiness. Anyone who has embraced her life and succeeded at true happiness has definitely earned much respect from me.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

If I could travel anywhere, I would probably go to the moon or Mars, just to say that I did and so I could check it off my bucket list. Realistically speaking, I would love to go to Europe for the first time and tour the continent—not by tourist attractions but by fine cuisine.

 

Molly Redfield

Molly Redfield

Folsom High School

Tell us about yourself.

I love music, meeting new people, and driving with my friends to unplanned places.

What are your school interests and involvements, hobbies and awards/achievements?

I’m currently the bass player for the Folsom High School Jazz Band “A,” Folsom High School Jazz Choirs “A” and “B,” and the bass section leader of the Folsom High School Symphony and Chamber Orchestra. I’m also a member of the California Scholarship Foundation, National Honor Society, and an officer for the Freshmen Kick Off Mentors; as well, I’m the bass player for the community Rolling Hills Arts Academy Jazz Band and Combo. In the fall, I’m a volunteer member of the CSUS Marching Band. The most rewarding thing I do is give bass or cello lessons to students from local schools. I recently received two academic awards, 32 outstanding musician awards, and a scholarship from the department of music at California State University, Sacramento.

What accomplishment are you most proud of and why?

Finally deciding on my career path. I’ve always been at a crossroads of whether to pursue a career that has always been a passion of mine or go into law; proudly, I know that with my choice of music I will enjoy every day of my life.

What’s one thing that not many people know about you?

I can play almost every instrument, except the flute.

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to attend CSUS and double major in jazz studies and music education.

Who is your role model?

Dr. Steve Roach, director of jazz studies at CSUS. He has instilled an excitement in me that’s motivated me to realize the importance of music—that this profound love can be shared and passed through others. I hope to be as inspiring as he is to me to my students.

Describe your career aspirations.

I would like to become a professor of bass and achieve a doctorate degree in music performance.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

I would like to travel to Ethiopia. I want to experience the hardships a third-world country goes through and grow an appreciation for the things I’ve been given in my life.

 

Kevin Yang

Kevin Yang

Folsom High School

Tell us about yourself.

I don’t have spare time; I like keeping myself perpetually busy.

What are your school interests and involvements, hobbies and awards/achievements?

I love playing piano and violin; I practice daily for several hours. I was part of the Sacramento Youth Symphony’s Premier Orchestra as a violinist for several years and have won various piano competitions, including first place at the state level of the CAPMT Contemporary Music Festival, and first place in the local Classical Masters Music Festival. Last month, I performed the first movement of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Merced Symphony. I’m also secretary of Mathletes, president of Film Fanatics Club, and vice president of Science Club. I received first place in the Genomics and Synthetic Biology category of the Teen Biotech Challenge Web site design contest, Honorable Mention in the USA Biology Olympiad, third place in a local SACMATH competition, and have National Merit Finalist standing. I also enjoy volunteering at Mercy San Juan Hospital, teaching local elementary school kids math, and conducting wet-lab research with Dr. Ken Kubo at American River College in collaboration with Dr. David Coil and the Eisen Lab at UC Davis Genome Center.

What accomplishment are you most proud of and why?

Being a research scholar intern at the UC Davis Medical Center Institute for Regenerative Cures this past summer— participating in stem-cell research firsthand was amazing. I was also honored to be able to represent UC Davis with an oral presentation at the concluding CIRM Poster Day at Stanford University.

What’s one thing that not many people know about you?

To a certain extent, I can fold origami, write Chinese calligraphy, and do tricks on the Chinese yo-yo.

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to attend a four-year university and study biology as a pre-medicine major.

Who is your role model?

Sergei Rachmaninoff—I love the way he overcame his depression and initial setbacks to write his magnum opus, the Second Piano Concerto.

Describe your career aspirations.

Ever since fifth grade, I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in medicine. I’m not sure if I’d rather go into research or clinical practice yet.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

France. I’ve never been there, but I’ve been studying French for four years, so I think it would be very interesting to experience French people and the culture of France firsthand.

 

Vivian  Lam

Vivian  Lam

Folsom High School

Tell us about yourself.

I have been called that “short kid in red that runs everywhere.” Add health nut, Daddy’s girl and unsubtle romantic, and it’s a pretty accurate description.

What are your school interests and involvements, hobbies and awards/achievements?

I am co-captain for the varsity cross country and track team. Club-wise, I am president/founder of the Mythology Club, vice president of Key Club, and a member of National Honor Society, CSF, World Language Scholars Society, and the Library Teen Council. I also play the piano (and the violin, and a bit of the guitar), and completed the Certificate of Merit Advanced level with Branch Honors. I placed first in Rotary and Lions speech contests. I am an AP Scholar with Distinction and have a few Academic Letter Awards. I love long-distance runs, making films, listening to French music, writing and reading, volunteering with Nellie at the Booktique, pondering deeply, and doing small acts of kindness.

What accomplishment are you most proud of and why?

Running in the Cross Country State Championships for the first, and last, time in high school. Being able to inhale the dust and run with people who care as much about the sport as I do and hear my team cheering me on with pride, was undeniable proof that I have grown and changed for the better.

What’s one thing that not many people know about you?

I’m actually quite the singing sensation—a one-man musical— especially in the shower and out of the hearing range of most living things; critics are in awe of my belting technique and sultry baritone.

What are your plans after graduation?

I will be continuing my studies at Stanford University, most likely majoring in biological environmental science.  But as I cannot let go of literature and French, I plan on studying abroad in France and possibly minoring in literature.

Who is your role model?

There are too many to name; it’s more of a compilation of outstanding qualities in each person (fictional, legendary, ordinary or otherwise) that teach and motivate me to be the best I can be.

Describe your career aspirations.

I have always intended to go down the medical path, to perhaps even become a surgeon. But, as I have been told to never give up on my dreams, I will keep running and writing and striving to achieve those lofty goals, and find contentment with myself and the world.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

Hogwarts would be an interesting travel experience (though my muggle heritage might be a minor inconvenience). Otherwise, I would love to be able to enter the painting Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog and stand in a heroic pose while staring profoundly into the distance.

 

Stephanie Wang

Stephanie Wang

Vista del Lago High School

Tell us about yourself.

I am human (most days at least). I’m also a student, a leader, a helper, an organizer, a sister, a reader, a dreamer, etc. I am many things and don’t like defining myself by just one of them. When I’m at school, I’m a student who loves learning and questioning. After school, I’m a leader in clubs. When I’m at home, I’m a sister with two brothers and two sisters. At any place at any given time, I could be organizing my day, volunteering in the community, pondering life, taking a catnap, planning world domination or all of the above.   

What are your school interests and involvements, hobbies and awards/achievements?

I enjoy learning (though I could do without homework!) and I challenge myself intellectually by taking advanced courses. Luckily, with a block schedule, I was able to take many electives that balanced out my AP load. Fun classes such as Ceramics, Yearbook, and Film as Visual Literature allow me to tap into a different set of skills. Ceramics was not a class I planned on taking my sophomore year, but I’m glad it worked itself into my schedule. I have received awards for a couple of my ceramic pieces. Sophomore year, I won a Silver Key in the Scholastic Art and Writing contest, and junior year, I placed third in the Kingsley Art Club High School Regional Art Show. Naturally, I joined the Ceramics Club. Through clubs like Key Club, California Scholarship Federation (CSF) and National Honor Society, I’m introduced to many volunteer opportunities. Through clubs like the Quill & Scroll Society and Ceramics Club, I get to work with the art of writing and the art of clay, respectively. These experiences have become important parts of my life over the years. With many of these clubs, I’ve taken a more active and involved role. I’m the president of CSF and the Quill & Scroll Society, and I was president of Key Club last year. Leading these clubs, I have grown. My experiences as a member and a leader of these clubs have changed me for the better. After planning agendas, speaking at meetings and coordinating events, I’m more confident in my abilities and myself.     

What accomplishment are you most proud of and why?

Right now, I’m most proud of becoming one of Vista’s valedictorians. School has been my top priority and I put my best effort into my work, so achieving this status shows me that hard work pays off.  

What are your plans after graduation?

Hopefully (if all goes according to plan), I will attend a four-year college after high school graduation. Wherever I go, I want to explore different fields of study in liberal arts and continue learning.     

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

I would go to the moon and beyond. Of course, I would also love to travel all over the seven continents here, but I imagine places like Mars would be exciting to explore because of their mystery.

 

Zach Jaeger

Zach Jaeger

Vista del Lago High School

Tell us about yourself.

I value honesty, determination and respect; these qualities drive us to success and help us manifest the best version of ourselves. I try to cultivate these principles in others so that they may experience their full potential—we all have this power to succeed within us.

What are your school interests and involvements, hobbies and awards/achievements?

I run cross country and track, and I have qualified for State twice in cross country. My love for running stems from the intense mental and physical exertion that comes with racing. Somewhat absurdly, this feeling pleases me. In addition to exercising, I like to express my inner nerdiness by participating in activities like Science Bowl, Mathletes, and the USA Biology Olympiad, in which I qualified for the semi-final exam.

What accomplishment are you most proud of and why?

I’m proudest of the cancer research project my girlfriend and I did over the summer; we made a difference in the world and honed our lab skills while learning about the intricacies of molecular cell biology.

What’s one thing that not many people know about you?

Not many people know that I can do a lot of pull-ups.

What are your plans after graduation?

Right after graduation, I will prepare for Relay for Life, which takes place the next day, June 1. During the summer, I will travel to China and/or Mexico and visit my family in St. Louis, while running and hitting the gym to train for college-level cross country in the fall.

Who is your role model?

I don’t have a role model, but I act and lead so that I may be a role model for others.

Describe your career aspirations.

After undergraduate school, I aspire to attend medical school and residency. By then I should have decided what medical branch I will specialize in, be it a family practice doctor, neurosurgeon or cancer researcher.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

I would time travel to the past to warn people of the global problems to come, and then I would come back to the future and see what has changed. But while I’m in the past, I would go to St. Louis and tell my grandpa that we will wage a worldwide war on cancer, the disease that unjustly took his life. In terms of places, I would travel to an ocean paradise to run on the sandy beach, swim in the pure water and relax in the sun.

 

Maggie Cunin

Maggie Cunin

Vista del Lago High School

Tell us about yourself.

I was born in Truckee and moved to Folsom when I was two years old. I consider myself a Folsom girl at heart. I love everything about this town!

What are your school interests and involvements, hobbies and awards/achievements?

At Vista, I’m very involved in our school’s unique music program, Vista Guitar Nation. I’m also president of National Honor Society and the 12th Grade Representative for the California Scholarship Federation.

What accomplishment are you most proud of and why?

I try to live every day with integrity. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do one thing every day that scares you,” and I live by that quote. I believe in recognizing accomplishments each day no matter how small, and always working to achieve greatness.

What’s one thing that not many people know about you?

From the time I was four years old until age 15, I worked many hours each week to become a professional ballerina. As I entered high school, I began to put more time into pursuing contemporary music, but ballet is still very close to my heart. I have worked at a local dance studio—Hawkins School of Performing Arts—all four years of high school and still substitute teach all levels of ballet.

What are your plans after graduation?

I’m going to college to pursue a degree in music business, which will take me to either Los Angeles or Nashville.

Who is your role model?

I have been fortunate enough to have a lot of people inspire me in my life, especially in the field of music business. Vista guitar teacher Mr. Vince Martini and his wife Mrs. Kim Martini have been great role models for me; also, my voice teacher Courtney Bowles-Miller constantly inspires me. Outside of the people in my life, Kevin Lyman, the creator of the Vans Warped Tour—a traveling summer music festival—is a huge source of inspiration to me. He carved his own path in the music industry.

Describe your career aspirations.

I’m working to become a tour manager for bands on labels, such as Fearless Records, and to eventually tour manage on the Vans Warped Tour.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

I hope tour managing will eventually take me to all 50 states! I’m proud to be a citizen of our country and would love to see as much of it as possible.


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