20 Questions for Top of the 2020 Class: Jiwon Hur graduates with a full International Baccalaureate diploma and would like to thank her grandparents for motivating her

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Senior Jiwon Hur is one of the 12 valedictorians in the Class of 2020. Image posted with permission from Jiwon Hur. 

Rebecca Choi

In lieu of our senior print issue, The Accolade has decided to conduct a Q and A with each of the 12 valedictorians for online posting.

Question #1: What are your plans after high school?

Answer: My plan for right now is to go to UCI as a Psychology B.S. Major. I’m interested in double or even triple majoring with Human Biology or International Studies. I’ve been going between a profession in the medical and law field for a while, but ever since I binge watched videos about healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, I was inspired by their compassion and want to go into the medical field. The college that I’m attending isn’t set because I’m waiting for decisions from eight schools that I’ve been waitlisted to.

Question #2: Which extracurriculars and clubs have you been a part of? 

A: I’ve been a part of Conservatory of Fine Arts as a member of the band (concert, symphonic, marching, and occasionally, the orchestra), International Baccalaureate, and Girl Up. I also started my own club this year called Life Hacks Club in order to complete my Gold Award Project by teaching students some key life skills needed for life past high school.

Question #3: How do you feel as one of the 12 valedictorians?

A: I’m honored and I’m proud. I look up to, and respect, my grandparents a lot so I feel like this gives me something that I can make them proud with.

Question #4: How do you feel about the second semester of our senior year and graduation being canceled?

A: I was honestly really bummed about not being able to see my friends or go out during the time that we should be saying our goodbyes. In regards to our graduation ceremony, I personally am happy with the decision to make it online in the meantime and trying to have a postponed in-person ceremony. An online ceremony doesn’t come close to substituting the real deal but it gives family and friends in different countries and regions the opportunity to still participate in this milestone in our lives.

Question #5: What or who motivated you the most during high school and why?

A: My grandparents were my biggest motivators. My grandpa is the brightest person I know and I wanted to be like him. Having this title as a valedictorian makes me feel closer to him, since he’s in South Korea.

Question #6: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

A: In ten years, I see myself staying in touch with the close friends that I’ve made in high school and college and knowing what I want to pursue as a career. Even though I’ve narrowed down my options by choosing the medical field, I know that there are hundreds of professions within that field. I hope that in ten years, I have a dream to chase.

Question #7: What was the most challenging in the four years of high school?

A: The most challenging thing in high school was taking care of myself. It was really hard to make sure that I had a good diet and that I exercised enough times a week. I also didn’t get as much sleep as others because I was able endure the effects of sleep deprivation better than others but I know that I probably should have been getting more sleep.

Question #8: Which class was the most threatening to your valedictorian status?

A: Theory of Knowledge was the most threatening to my valedictorian status. The class was really interesting and my writing eventually improved greatly but the path to improving my writing was a tough one. I sometimes didn’t know what I was doing, but Mr. Rosenkranz’s guidance slowly got me on the path to understanding the prompt.

Question #9: What has been the highlight of high school?

A: The highlight of high school was spontaneously going out to eat and hang out with my best friends. I also enjoyed sleeping over at Hannah [Yi]’s house on weekdays and being late to school.

Question #10: Describe your high school experience in three words

A: Bittersweet, impactful, [and] chaotic. 

Question #11: Complete the sentence: “I will always remember…”

A: I will always remember the weight being lifted off my chest every time I completed a paper for IB.

Question #12: What was your favorite class?

A: My favorite class was AP Psychology with Mr. Schwartz. He was an amazing teacher. He kept the class engaged during the lecture while using clever mnemonic devices to help us remember the content being taught. He was also the sweetest man I knew. When he found an assignment that I thought I had lost in his grading pile, he contacted my parents at 10 p.m. to make sure that I wasn’t stressing too much about the missing assignment. That class was the reason I decided to pursue a Psychology major in college.

Question #13: What will you miss most after you graduate?

A: I’ll miss having several classes with all the same people. Being in the IB program, my junior and senior year classes consisted of mostly the same people so I became close to all of them. I’ll miss the support system that I got from these people.

Question #14: Did you have senioritis?

A: I definitely had senioritis. Especially after we learned that we would lose the second (better) half of our senior year, it was hard to stay motivated. I have to admit that most of my papers were written the night before they were due.

Question #15: What is your greatest achievement during high school?

A: My greatest achievement during high school was writing my Extended Essay for my IB diploma. It sounds lame, but hearing my adviser give positive feedback on something I had worked so hard on felt amazing.

Question #16: How have you changed since freshman year?

A: Since freshman year I’ve learned to manage my stress better. I used to be very sensitive to everything but now that I’ve adjusted, I’m definitely able to respond to stressful situations better.

Question #17: Out of all your years in high school, which one was your favorite and why?

A: Junior year was my favorite year because the Lancer Regiment medaled in the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association 4A division and because I spent the most time with my friends. Even though that time was mostly spent going to each other’s houses to study and go to Cal State, it was a time that I’ll cherish.

Question #18: A senior quote 

A: 24 hours is so short. 

Question #19: A word of advice for underclassmen?

A: Finish your homework. Doing it and getting a poor score is better than getting a zero. And don’t take a nap. You know you won’t be waking up from it.

Question #20: Would you like to thank anyone? Final words?

A: I would like to thank my blood-related family and my IB family.