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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: Girls golf captain Irene Kang graduates as valedictorian to pursue biological sciences at UCI

Noah Lee
Graduating at the top of her class, senior Irene Kang commits to the University of California, Irvine, with the hopes of becoming a dentist. (Illustrations by DaHee Kim)

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

Answer: I feel super proud and grateful! One of my cousins graduated as a valedictorian from Sunny in 2017, and she’s one of my biggest inspirations, and I’m happy to have successfully followed in her footsteps. Straight A’s run in the bloodline. 

Question 2: What are your plans after high school?

A: I’m going to UCI [University of California, Irvine] for biological sciences. ZOT ZOT ZOT!

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

A: I aspire to be a dentist. Interning for my dentist over the summer has definitely inspired me to pursue the career.

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

A: I realized that a good night’s sleep is more valuable than staying up late to study.

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

A: Varsity golf team captain, Health Occupations Students of America, California Scholarship Federation, Link Crew, Cooperation Act and working at Baskin-Robbins.

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

A: AP [Advanced Placement] Lang [Language and Composition] with Ms. [Teresa] McCarty.

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

A: I had a B+ in AP Lang second semester of junior year, but I got a 5 on the AP Lang exam, so it got rounded up to an A on my transcript. #blessed

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

A: Ms. McCarty taught me to push through adversity and to never give up. 

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

A: I made a timeline for myself on when each application should be drafted and completed, and it helped me stay on track. The best advice would be to start early so you can put maximum effort in each of your applications and make all your responses thoughtful.

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 physics boat I’m working on right now, hopefully. 

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

A: I made study guides for every unit of AP Chem [Chemistry] before every test to help me study, and it was nice having the study guides when preparing for the final at the end of the year. 

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

A: Watching basketball games with my friends and screaming so loud people ask me if I have a Napoleon complex.

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

A: Hopefully not in school anymore. 

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

A: Eating lunch in Mrs. [Jennifer] Kim’s room every day with my friends. 

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

A: It was hard to stay focused and awake in my room with my comfy-looking bed right next to me. I overcame this challenge by doing school in bed instead of at my desk.

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

A: As cliche as it is, I really learned that everything happens for a reason, and the best thing you can do with setbacks is to learn from them.

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

A: Try your best in everything you do!

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

A: Live. Laugh. Love. Also, don’t take AP Physics senior year.

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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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