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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


Asaph Li
Graduating as the top of the Class of 2024, Accolade web editor-in-chief senior Susie Kim committed to UCLA, where she plans on majoring in computer science.

The Class of 2024 produced 39 valedictorians, and The Accolade interviewed each to reflect on their high school journeys and thoughts. This is a full version of the Q&A, of which the preview is included in our May magazine issue. Any remaining full-version Q&A will be posted in alphabetical order throughout the week in the Feature section.

Question 1: What are your plans after high school?

Answer: I’ll be attending UCLA for computer science.

Question 2: What were some notable setbacks you encountered during your high school career, and how did you overcome them?

A: I had a hard time managing my workload and responsibilities when I was a senior while working as the president of several clubs, [being involved in] organizations and perfecting my college applications. I also wrongly assumed my senior classes would be relatively easier compared to last year, so I still had to put in the effort to maintain my valedictorian status.

Question 3: What was one of your most memorable experiences in high school?

A: I’ll definitely be leaving high school with so many core memories like the Science Olympiad competitions, [American Red Cross] blood drives and Accolade late nights, but I think the most memorable would be the activities I participated in as homecoming court. I remember watching the homecoming court promotions videos as an underclassman, thinking I’d love to also be in [the seniors’] position. Walking down the aisle for the homecoming assembly and football game is a memory I’ll never forget!

Question 4: How do you think beginning high school through distance learning positively or negatively impacted your high school journey?

A: I think it was a mix of both, but it more positively impacted my high school journey. I would say it helped me transition into high school from middle school, and I was still able to earn a high-quality education through all the resources. However, I regret not growing closer with my freshman-year classmates and widening my comfort zone around new people.

Question 5: What is your biggest regret in high school?

A: My biggest regret in high school is not taking Dance 3. I’ve always enjoyed dancing and took Dance 1 and 2 for my PE credit, but I couldn’t continue because of conflicts in my schedule. While watching the annual spring concerts, I would always imagine myself on the stage again and regret not taking dance.

Question 6: What advice about school would you give your freshman self if you were to start high school again?

A: Don’t exert your energy on activities that you don’t feel passionate about. Pursue the things that genuinely make you happy.

Question 7: What were some of your extracurriculars and leadership roles, if any?

A: I was the president of the American Red Cross club, Science Olympiad, STEMup4Youth and UNICEF and the web editor-in-chief of The Accolade

Question 8: What class threatened your valedictorian status the most?

A: This might be all due to hindsight, but I don’t think any class severely threatened my valedictorian status. However, it took extra blood, sweat and tears to secure that A in my junior year AP [Advanced Placement] English Language [and Composition] class.

Question 9: What are your career aspirations and/or activities you want to be involved in at college?

A: I’m not confirmed on my future career aspirations, but I definitely do want to become more involved in engineering, specifically robotics engineering. I am hoping to double major in the engineering field as well.

Question 10: What would you say was the most rewarding aspect of being valedictorian?

A: I would say the recognition we got from the principal and other administrators. It also feels good to have this legacy run down my family because my older sister was also the valedictorian for the Class of 2019.
Question 11: What was your favorite class in school?

A: AP Calculus BC. I took this my junior year, and going into the class, I was really scared because everyone I knew who took it told me it was super difficult. This was the first math course where I felt challenged, and I really enjoyed learning calculus. 

Question 12: Who was a mentor who helped you throughout your academic journey?

A: Definitely my parents and older sister. They always encouraged and supported me in all of my endeavors and helped boost my confidence. I wouldn’t be the ambitious person I am today without their support.

Question 13: What is a study habit that you would recommend to someone else?

A: I’ve been doing this since freshman year, but I try to finish most, if not all, of my homework during school. Sometimes, I spend my lunch in the library to finish homework or utilize the time after finishing my classwork during some of my periods. That way, I have more leisure time at home to rest and do what I actually want to do.

Question 14: What is something you look forward to the most after graduating?

Taking the classes I feel genuinely passionate about in college. In high school, I think I took a lot of classes for the sake of earning credit, and I always felt so bored learning the subject. I’m determined to fill my schedule with courses that would really excite me.

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About the Contributor
Faith Jung
Faith Jung, Entertainment Editor
After spending her first year on The Accolade staff as the social media manager, junior Faith Jung returns as the arts & entertainment editor for the 2023-2024 school year. Jung is excited to work with the rest of the staff once again to write more stories and expand the influence of the school paper. Aside from working for The Accolade, Jung often takes part in community service, club activities and studying. She also likes to watch Korean dramas and hang out with her friends in her free time.
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