Being named Valedictorian is one of the highest academic accomplishments a high school student can achieve. Hard work and dedication is what it takes to earn this title and this year’s valedictorian, senior Veronica Chua, is an academic superstar.
Hear what she has to say about her St. John’s experiences and the experiences and opportunities that await her in college and beyond.
What college(s) were you accepted into?
Swarthmore College (Early Decision)
What is your planned college major? minor?
Major – Cognitive Science; minor – undecided
Why do you wish to pursue this major or career? How does this align with what you would like to achieve in your life after college?
I’ve always been interested in how biochemical processes in our physical bodies work and how they connect with each other to create the emotions we feel, our different consciences, morals, values, etc.
What about college life are you most excited for?
Independence; dorms; new environment
What advice would you give to a high school student starting college applications?
Don’t procrastinate–I know it sounds hard (because I’m definitely guilty of doing it), but it really will make the entire process so much easier. Get as much input from teachers and other adults on your personal essays to perfect it as much as possible. More importantly, try your best to ensure that your application doesn’t just reflect your scholastic achievements and academic abilities, but also who you are as a person.
What will your lasting memories of St. John’s be?
My friends and teachers
How well has St. John’s prepared you for a successful college future?
The IB program definitely helped me to expand my worldview and to better my critical thinking skills. The subjects we learn at school are no longer categorized into boxes. I’ve learned that you can learn many different skills, both academically and for the real world, in every subject.Every subject has something to offer that will allow a student to better understand the others.
Who has been the most influential person in your time at St. John’s School?
Besides my parents, the most influential person in my time at St. John’s would have to be my Chinese teacher. Leung Laoshi has been teaching me for 7 years now, starting from the 6th grade, and has become almost like a second mother to me. Not only has she helped me become as proficient in Chinese as I am now, but she has also helped me outside the classroom by supporting me and offering life advice.
What clubs/activities/organizations are you involved with on/off campus?
I’ve been the president of the SJS High School Glee Club and the captain of the SJS High School ACB team for the past two years; however, I’ve been involved in these activities since freshman year. I’m also an active member of Tech Crew. I’m also a member of the SJS NHS chapter and treasurer of the SJS Tri-M chapter. Off campus, I’m a blackbelt studying at Guam Taekwondo Center, and I’ve been enrolled there since I was four or five years old. I sing in a few adult choirs outside of school, as well.
How were you able to balance your extracurricular activities and academic life so well? Any piece of great advice?
I really think that the key to balancing extracurricular activities and academic life is to involve yourself in things that interest you. If you have a passion for a hobby or are really dedicated to a club, schedules tend to work themselves out. You’re also more motivated and energized by doing these activities, so you won’t be so exhausted and drained by the end of the day. I’d like to tell any underclassmen not to worry about filling your college resumes with dozens of different activities; instead, stick to a solid few that you’re passionate about and dedicate lots of time into. Also, don’t be so distracted by extracurriculars that your grades suffer.
What do you bequeath to the incoming junior class?
To the juniors–Good luck! I’m confident that the SJS Class of 2018 is full of extremely motivated and talented students. While the road ahead may look rough, I hope that you all know that you’re surrounded by wonderful friends and family that want to support you in everything you do. Take advantage of every opportunity presented to you, and fight to do your best until the very end. (Also, please don’t procrastinate on your college apps. Trust me, you don’t want to.)
What is one thing you would like to change about the world?
If I had the power to change something about the world, I’d like to somehow reverse the effects of global warming or help bring peace to the Middle East.
Would you like to say a shout-out or anything to anyone (your parents/any teachers or staff)?
I would really just like to say thank you to my parents for supporting me through thick and thin, to my friends for being there for me when I needed you most, and to my teachers for touching my life and for teaching me so much about what it means to be a knight.