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Chargers After Clark: The Advice Alumni Have for Students

Whether it be freshman year anxiety,  academic stress, college applications, or even the famed “senioritis”, some parts of the high school process are universal. High school students are often told, as we face obstacles, to ask someone who has been through them for advice. Still, it can be hard to ask alumni for help, whether it be out of embarrassment or simply an urge not to bother their busy lives.

So, to make that process easier, we asked five Clark alumni the following questions:

  1. How has Clark made you who you are today?
  2. What advice do you have for students struggling with classes?
  3. How did you figure out what you wanted to major in?
  4. Do you have any advice for students applying to college?
  5. What is something you wish you knew in high school?

Here are their answers:

Leah Im (University of Nevada, Las Vegas)

  1. Clark High School has given me limitless opportunities and shaped me to be who I am today. All of the clubs, rigorous classes, and sports that I was a part of allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone and try new things. Doing this allowed me to get a taste of what I wanted to do for a career. 
  2. One thing that I highly recommend is to review material taught in class consistently instead of cramming everything before a test or quiz. Just looking over your notes for a few minutes each day will help you retain the information better and allow you to perform well in class.
  3. To be honest, I did not know what I really wanted to major in until the summer before school started. When I applied, I wanted to be a chemistry major since it seemed interesting. However, I learned about the PGA golf management program, a concentration under hospitality management, at UNLV. This quickly sparked my interest and I changed my major even before school started because the program allowed me to mesh my longtime interest in business with passion for golf.
  4. When you apply to colleges, I highly recommend that you make sure the school is right for you. Make sure you are comfortable with the environment, like the dorming situation, enjoy the school’s atmosphere, and even take the weather in account as well!
  5. In high school, I wish I knew that it was okay to take risks. There were times where I was scared to reach for the stars and I overlooked different opportunities around me because I was scared of failure. Looking back, I regret not taking risky opportunities because the embarrassment of not succeeding would have been short term and I would’ve learned a valuable lesson from it, regardless of the outcome.

Alex Kwok (University of Pennsylvania)

Alex Kwok, a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, speaks to Clark HOSA.

  1. Clark provided an environment for me to meet some of the smartest and deepest thinkers I know. Getting a chance to interact and most importantly, learn from my colleagues inspired me to think critically about how I carry myself. I will admit that I did not always feel comfortable around them. I constantly compared myself to them and feared that a grade, or AP score would eventually drive us apart. I am endlessly thankful that this never happened. Instead, I was encouraged by my peers, counselors, teachers, and administrators to embrace who I am. I cannot answer this question without also mentioning the music program, Science Olympiad, and HOSA. Within those communities, the teachers gave me the strength to find my identity by fostering a collaborative and loving environment where I didn’t have to put on a facade. Dr. Cushinery and Mr. Eric Maine provided the home-like orchestra room where I spent countless hours, Mr. Miller supplied a room where I could superglue my fingers together, and Mrs. Saiki offered a place to throw together my HOSA Bowl team together at the last minute. I hope you find the communities that support you fully and want you to succeed. My story does not, and will not look like yours, so go forth and find those communities! Ultimately, Clark’s ability to bring the smartest children, the most caring teachers, and an uplifting administration together is it’s strongest attribute.
  2. Classes…. Where to begin? Clark classes are the kinds of classes that make you hold your breath, clutch your heart, and pray for the best when finals roll around. I want you to know that I’ve been there, feeling hopeless, feeling like you don’t belong. While I can look back on my experiences in Clark classes and laugh, I fully understand what it’s like to struggle, cry, and be scared of my parents. While struggling, I was told many times that one grade will not change your fate forever, but I never believed it. As time went on, I came to finally understand that grades, test scores, and medals are not a measure of your worth. They do not give the whole story about your character, your personality, your integrity. However, this does not mean that you can sit back and relax! It shows character if you put in a respectable effort, even if you did not receive the grade you wanted. I hope you come to know that as long as you put your best foot forward, that’s all anyone could ever ask of you.
  3. While I am still figuring out what I wanted to major in, I have an idea now. I reflected about the things I am most passionate about, which can be seen in the clubs I joined. I love interacting with people and getting to know their individual story, which I learned, can be explored through the lens of anthropology. However, I also found that studying for Anatomy and Physiology for Science Olympiad and rapid-fire questions for HOSA Bowl also excited me. I hope the clubs you join or have joined, help guide you in your journey to discovering your passions!
  4. You have probably heard everything there is to know about college: be yourself, get good scores, get good grades, be excited to learn, etc. While the college application process is not perfect, it gave me the chance to learn who I was and the values I hold dear to me. Moreover, reflecting upon those values helps provide a framework for how you navigate the world. For example, I love making music because it impacts people in ways words cannot. In certain situations, I feel more comfortable expressing my emotions through playing my violin or listening to specific songs. Colleges want to know your world view, your perspective, and your story to figure out what you can bring to their community.
  5. Cherish the memories you make and document them! I never took enough pictures or wrote down the best parts of trips. Make the best of them because they are memories you will hopefully look back on and smile!

Jennifer Glezen (University of California, Berkeley)

    1. Clark doesn’t hand you everything so you definitely build character and grit which is really important in the college grind.
    2. Classes are hard and clubs are competitive but at the end of the day we are all a family. Don’t be too snakey and honestly enjoy what you do. If you’re in a club you don’t like, drop it because it won’t be useful to you resume-wise – especially if your dislike bleeds through.
    3. I’ve always wanted to do business in some form after watching my mom do it for so long. I specifically chose international due to my belief that globalization will grow much stronger in the coming year and businesses will start competitive internationally rather than domestically
    4. Don’t be too fake. On every app I wrote about sucking boba balls, and I got into my top choices (subtle flex). Be quirky but not too much to where it’s crunchy
    5. My time is valuable and I should only be spending it on things that are worthwhile. Aside from friends, family, school, and activities, my focus should be on bettering myself, and not trying to impress other people

Aakash Shah (Case Western Reserve University)

  1. I think the best part about Clark was that I was surrounded by a peer group that was as focused and as driven as I was. Because of that, I went into college knowing or I when I went to college doing what I had to do. Essentially, Clark allowed me to stay focused.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask your teachers for help. You may just want to ask your friends for help, but they’re probably just as confused as you. Moreover, it’s a lot better for yourself and you’re learning when you’re asking your teachers.
  3. For my senior year at Clark, I was the president of DECA and I’ve always been fascinated with economics and business. My interest in this and pre-med made it easier to choose my major.
  4. Your best resources are alumni, teachers, and counselors. I really think that everyone’s going through the same thing together, so don’t be afraid to ask people to help guide you through the college application process.
  5. Grades are important but they don’t define you as a person.

Anthony Le (University of Nevada, Las Vegas)

  1. Clark has actually influenced who I am today in a lot of ways. I met my best friends there and still keep in touch with them. I also think the high diversity at the school helped broaden my perspective to a lot of things and I’m really appreciative of that. I still kind of naturally wake up pretty early in the mornings and I think Clark has something to do with that.
  2. The best advice I can give is to just remember that it is temporary. Things can go as quickly as they come and in the long run, most things that challenge us aid in allowing us to grow, both as students and people overall. Don’t be afraid to ask for help too! Take advantage of the resources around you. I think that’s the best way to succeed. It can get pretty heavy when the school work starts to pile up so remember to take care of yourself as well because it’s easy to get swallowed up by the prospect of it.
  3. Figuring out my major was actually a bit of a difficult process for me. Being in the AMSAT program and involved with math and science for my entire school career, I always thought that I’d go into something related to that. However, I always saw these subjects as a means to an end, and when I realized that going into these fields meant a continuation for the rest of my life, I began to reevaluate what I wanted to do. Like most people, I did some soul searching to figure out what I really wanted to do and I looked at things I had a genuine interest in. I always loved making videos for all my school projects and I had seen more movies than anyone else I knew. Putting 2 and 2 together, majoring in film seemed like a daunting task, knowing how competitive the industry is, but I knew I’d rather live pursuing my passion than living in regret of playing it safe and doing something practical (which there’s also nothing wrong with).
  4. Take the application seriously but don’t focus so much on the results of acceptance. If you presented yourself as sincerely and authentically as you possibly could, then that is a job well done right there, and if you still don’t get accepted then it really wasn’t meant for you. Ask for help again too and start early! Don’t be afraid to apply wherever too. Give yourself options all the way from a safe in state school to the big name dream school. I go to UNLV but I still applied to USC (which has an exceptional film program) and even though I only got waitlisted, I’m glad I did. Never compare yourself to your peers either. It doesn’t benefit anyone.
  5. I wish I knew not to take things so seriously. You’re only high school aged once, and afterwards everyone’s path diverges but one thing is for certain and it is that things will get more difficult in one way or  another. I remember being so concerned with everything and I wish that I took some time to enjoy being young. The stakes are seriously not that high for you guys and most mistakes will be out of your head in a few weeks at most. I also wish I knew that it was okay to express what I was actually interested in. Sincerity goes a long way so don’t waste time doing things you don’t really want to do or think you have to do in order to better yourself on the competitive social or academic ladder. Pay attention to people and actually listen. Even if it doesn’t seem like much, you might be able to make an impact on someone’s day and not even know it. As you figure out who you are, make sure you figure out how to be someone who is empathetic and compassionate, we need more of that.
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