The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

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
Senior Junhee Lee stands as one of the 39 Class of 2024 valedictorians. Lee will be attending University of California, Irvine, as a chemistry major.

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: Which university have you committed to?
University of California, Irvine.

Question 2: What will you major in?

Question 3: What were some notable setbacks you encountered during your high school career and how did you overcome them?
A: I moved to the States when I was in eighth grade. So maybe that was a little bit of a setback. Since in ninth grade I was in distance learning, I didn’t have chances to make friends and I think the social aspect was a little important for me because that makes the school experience a little more comfortable. So I think that kind of impacted how I performed in school, but I still tried my best. 

Question 4: What was one of your most memorable experiences in high school?
A: I think the IB [International Baccalaureate] program. So I think that’s memorable in a lot of ways. Like it’s been hard, but also, I think I earned many valuable experiences from the program through mainly how I was involved in a lot of activities that I wouldn’t normally do as a high school student like writing research papers or doing exhibitions.

Question 5: How do you think beginning high school through distance learning positively or negatively impacted your high school journey?
A: Honestly, I didn’t really like distance learning but since it was more easy to focus on campus. And I don’t think there was a huge setback, like I just did what I would normally do as a student.

Question 6: What is your biggest regret in high school?
A: I think I should have participated more in extracurriculars since I was like, maybe too focused on the academic part or some other stuff. So I would join more clubs or try out new things.

Question 7: What advice about school would you give your freshman self if you were to start high school again?
A: I think honestly, I tried harder when I was a freshman than I am right now. So I think just keep up the work. Just don’t procrastinate. 

Question 8: What were some of your extracurriculars and leadership roles, if any?
A: The most significant ones are my math club, which I’m president of right now, and the California Scholarship Federation, which I’m also president of. I tried out debating when I was in my sophomore year. I don’t think that worked out that well, so I just chose to do the math. But, I think if I were to go back in time, I would have joined a science club or the Science Olympiad or something.

Question 9: What class threatened your valedictorian status the most?
A: I think maybe History of the Americas when I was in my junior year, as I kind of did bad on tests like at the beginning of the year. I was really worried. Yeah, and some of the English classes; I think I’m more of a math person.

Question 10: What are your career aspirations and/or activities you want to be involved in at college?
A: In terms of career, I aspire to go into the medical field, and I plan to major in chemistry. Some activities I want to participate in are research opportunities in college. Definitely those and if I were to join like any extracurriculars, I recently discovered my passion for music, so maybe something like that.

Question 11: What would you say was the most rewarding aspect of being valedictorian?
A: It’s just like the feeling that I’m getting recognition for the work that I put in. I think that’s the aspect that is the most rewarding.

Question 12: What was your favorite class in school?
A: My favorite class is Theory of Knowledge. It’s an IB class. I think the whole class structure is not really typical. It’s more free and it’s a discussion-based class, and I really liked that aspect.

Question 13: Who was a mentor who helped you throughout your academic journey?
A: My main mentor was my mom. And although she has no experience with the [U.S.] education system, I think she’s really brilliant. She just kind of guided me when I was stressed with some overwhelming things like school or stuff. She just guided me into setting priorities and introduced me to some new areas of interest. For example, she gave me the idea to join the math club when I was a freshman. And so that’s how I tried it out and I stuck with it for the rest of my schooling.

Question 14: What is a study habit that you would recommend to someone else?
A: I think you have to be really flexible with how you study for the different subjects. For example, for history, it’s really content heavy, so those subjects you definitely need to focus more on reading more than anything. For math, you need practice, like it’s really different for all the subjects, so it’s really important not to be trapped in some kind of way. You should try out many different ways of studying and find the best way. I think a study planner is a good idea since sometimes you can forget what you need to do.

Question 15: What is something you look forward to the most after graduating?
A: I look forward to having more changes in my life, I guess. Like, I think the time that I grew the most was when I was faced with a huge change in my life. And college is definitely going to be a really big change in my life since I’m not going to live in my house and it’s going to be a whole different academic setting. 

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