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The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

18 Questions for Top of the 2023 Class: Hyejin Cha juggles academic responsibilities to graduate as a valedictorian


Question 1: How do you feel as one of the 18 valedictorians?

Answer: I think it’s nice.

Question 2: What are your plans after high school?

A: University of California, Irvine, for biological science.

Question 3: What are your career aspirations?

A: I’d like to pursue a pre-med path, hopefully becoming a doctor. I guess I was just always interested in that path, and I also like helping people, so it works out. 

Question 4: How did you handle stress and manage your time effectively?

A: I did not do it effectively. I have a lot of regrets, but at least it worked out in the end. 

Question 5: What extracurricular activities or leadership roles were you involved in?

A: Tutoring children, Rotary Club, animal shelter volunteering, as well as volunteering in nursing homes.

Question 6: What was the class that threatened your valedictorian status?

A: Advanced Placement Physics.

Question 7: What were some of your academic failures or setbacks, and how did you bounce back from them?

A: Yes. I had one in second semester of junior year and senior year. Both times I was just tired of everything and did not want to try at all because I was burnt out. I was able to bounce back thanks to my dogs because I decided that I can’t just give up on life because I still need to take care of them. So they basically motivated me to work harder and manage time better. 

Question 8: Were there any teachers or mentors who played a significant role in shaping your academic journey? If so, how?

A: Mr. [Andrew] Colomac really opened my eyes to Chemistry; Ms. [Teresa] McCarty convinced me that I could become a good writer if I tried a little harder, so I did. 

Question 9: How did you navigate the college application process, and what advice do you have for other students going through it?

A: Please don’t procrastinate. 

Question 10: Whether it be school-affiliated or not, were there any specific projects or assignments that you feel were particularly impactful or rewarding?

A: Christmas outreach project at a nursing home; we sang for them, gave them hand-made cards and a small gift bag and it was rewarding to see them so happy. 

Question 11: What was a specific study habit or routine you had that helped you excel?

A: Try studying a little at least for each test or quiz so that even if you fail it, you have the right to say that you’ve tried. I don’t think you can complain without trying. 

Question 12: What is your most memorable experience or highlight from your high school years?

A: Making new friends and growing to love each of them. 

Question 13: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

A: In debt as a hospital resident. 

Question 14: What will you miss most after you graduate?

A: My friends definitely.

Question 15: If you could go back to freshman year and redo high school, would you?

A: Lack of social life and structure in life in general. I didn’t really overcome it; it was more like a matter of time. 

Question 16: Tell us a life lesson you learned at Sunny Hills.

A: I learned that even if I try, I will still fail, but it’s okay because there’s a next time. If there isn’t a next time, well then, I guess I’m out of luck.

Question 17: As a valedictorian, what last message do you have for the underclassmen?

A: It’s just a letter grade. Don’t be too stressed over it; it’s not worth your physical and mental health.

Question 18: What was the most useful advice you have received from someone about high school?

A: Someone told me that I need to learn to move on from certain things and that regretting is normal, but it should only be a short blip in life.

This is part of an ongoing series featuring the Class of 2023 valedictorians. More Q&As will come soon.

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Susie Kim
Susie Kim, Web Editor-in-Chief
Entering her final year on staff, senior Susie Kim looks forward to continuing The Accolade's online legacy as the web editor-in-chief. Kim plans on focusing on the frequency of online posting and incorporating more multimedia into stories across each section. After concluding her junior year as the news editor, Kim feels confident in reporting timely news both on and off campus. She is excited to work with this year's staff to continue producing The Accolade's print products. Outside of spending time in the journalism room, Kim likes competing with her Science Olympiad teammates and listening to music.
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