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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 the Top of the 2023 Class: Reena Jung aims to further her education at UCLA after graduating as valedictorian

Asaph Li
UCLA-bound senior Reena Jung poses with an illustrated plant in her plant as she plans to study environmental science for the next four years. (Illustrations by DaHee Kim)

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

Answer: Lowkey, I don’t feel that special about having valedictorian status because 17 other people have the same title. However, I’m still happy and grateful that I was able to survive high school with strong academics! 

Question 2: What are your plans after high school?

A: I will be attending UCLA as an environmental science major. 

Question 3: What are your career aspirations, and what influenced you to pursue them? 

A: My career aspirations have changed a lot because I have so many interests, but as of now, I would like to be a pharmacist. I always wanted to go into a field that was health and science-related, but I chose pharmacy because of the lifestyle and its predictable hours. I am also considering becoming a part-time youth pastor. 

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

A: ​​To be honest, I did not manage time effectively, LOL. I lost so much sleep throughout high school because I procrastinated a lot, and I wish I got more beauty sleep in — maybe I wouldn’t look so foul if I slept more, LOL. Usually, my peak stress times were when I had deadlines, so I didn’t really have time to manage my stress because my tasks were priorities. When I wasn’t so rushed, though, I did have destressing time through Netflix binges and taking walks.

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

A: Too many to list them all, but a few of my favorite activities were praise team, Seeds of Worship, Science Olympiad and political internships. My least favorite was my part-time job at The Source. 

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

A: Oh my god. APUSH [Advanced Placement United States History]. Usually, people say AP Physics is the hardest, but for me, APUSH was harder because I like STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] subjects more than the humanities. Also, the teacher I had for APUSH had an 80% tests and quizzes weight. I cried because I almost got a B during both semesters. 

Question 7: Did you encounter any academic failures or setbacks, and how did you bounce back from them? 

A: During my junior year, I was juggling seven AP/IB [International Baccalaureate] classes, so there was a week where I could not study for the hardest AP Calculus BC unit, and I literally got an F on the test. I thought I was done because that dropped my grade by 10%, but I put my whole life into studying for the final and somehow ended with a 90.0%.

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

A: Shoutout to Mr. [Mike] Schade because Honors Biology was the class that allowed me to discover my love for science, Also, shoutout to Mr. [Andrew] Gartner! I’m majoring in environmental science because he made APES [Environmental Science] so fun and enjoyable. I also had more to write about in my college essays, thanks to that class. 

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

A: I was overwhelmed at first because I didn’t hire any college advisers to help me, but when I took it slowly, one step at a time, things started to make more sense. One piece of advice I would give is to start early if you can. I started in August, so it was difficult to balance my classes while writing college essays. Getting a lot of the essays done in the summer can save you stress during your first semester. 

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: The essays I wrote in Mrs. [Jennifer] Kim’s English class were the foundation of my writing abilities. What I learned in there carried me through the rest of my high school English classes. 

Question 11: Did you have any specific study habits or routines that helped you excel?

A: Usually, if I don’t understand a concept, I don’t just skip over it. I either bookmark it to review it later or make sure to ask the teacher or a friend for help. 

Question 12: What are some of your most memorable experiences or highlights from your high school years? 

A: Talking with my friends instead of doing classwork. Some people might think that’s wasting time, but sometimes, talking with your friends is the best use of time. 

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

A: Hopefully, I’ll be a pharmacist by then! 

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

A: My favorite teachers.

Question 15: Were there any challenges posed by remote or hybrid learning during the COVID-19 pandemic? How did you overcome these challenges? 

A: I first started distance learning during March of my freshman year, and it was difficult for me because I wasn’t used to the structure and using online tools. Because everything was online, sometimes it took double the amount of time for me to complete the assignments. I think this was just a matter of me getting used to technology and learning how to use it. Also, I hated it when I missed part of a lecture because the screen lagged. I had to learn to be patient enough to wait until the end of class to ask my teacher about it. 

Question 16: What lessons did you learn from failure or setbacks during your high school years? 

A: I learned that setbacks aren’t always the end of it all; there are ways to redeem yourself or make up for your fall.

Question 17: What was the most useful advice you have received from someone about high school? 

A: Kinda cringe, but “Let go and let God.”

Question 18: As a valedictorian, what last message do you have to the underclassmen? 

A: Don’t worry too much about things that are out of your control — just do your best so that you don’t have regrets. Also, make sure to have fun.

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Hannah Lee
Hannah Lee, Web Managing Editor
Senior Hannah Lee looks forward to her third and final year on The Accolade staff as the web managing editor. After serving as a copy editor and opinion editor in the past, Lee is excited to experiment with multimedia elements to broaden her journalistic skill set. Though she still enjoys designing print issue layouts for readers, Lee hopes to focus on helping maintain the online website this school year. Outside of The Accolade, Lee is involved with several school clubs, such as UNICEF and Science Olympiad. In her free time, she enjoys playing the piano and spending time with her older sister, Vivian.
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