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Valedictorian opens up about high school journey

One might think in order to be valedictorian they must sacrifice every aspect of their life and constantly have their nose in a book. However, valedictorian of the senior class of 2019, Alex Lin, exemplifies that this is not always the case. With a staggering GPA of 4.71 and acceptances to three Ivy Leagues, Lin will attend Georgetown University in the fall of 2023 with plans to study international politics or culture and politics. Though Lin is evidently hard-working, he shows that the true route to success in school is a passion for learning.

“I don’t think I am naturally smart,” Lin said. “I definitely have to put in the effort. Part of the reason I don’t have to study like five hours is because I really think that learning is valuable. I pay attention and think about the content, so when I go to class, it’s not just pure memorization, I kind of integrate what I learn into my world views.”

Unlike many teenagers who tend to cram information for six hours the night before a test, Lin only spends an average of 30 minutes to an hour studying for tests the night before because he has already digested the content while paying attention during class. Instead, he spends his time participating in extracurriculars.

“Inside of school, [among] some of my most meaningful activities [is] definitely Texas French Symposium (TFS),” Lin said. “I’ve been involved in it for four years, and I won some things, lost some things, but TFS every single year has been one of my favorite memories because it not only cultivated my passion for French, but it also brought me into a community of fellow French nerds and I think that was very valuable.”

Along with placing third at TFS, he and his team won third in the state at History Fair.

“History fair has been really fun,” Lin said. “I took from History Fair my aspirations for the future, so basically from History fair, I started wanting to become a diplomat, so that’s why it’s so valuable to me as well.”

To add on to his plethora of extracurriculars, Lin is an officer for International Baccalaureate Student Service Association, has been involved in Science Fair for the past three years, has participated in an ensemble that plays at senior centers since eighth grade and tutors Chinese students in English..

“It kind of has something with what I want to do in the future, building a cultural bridge between two parts of the world,” Lin said.

Despite Lin’s academic achievements and involvement in the school and community, Lin is just a normal, high school student who watches movies, plays basketball with his brother, writes and surfs around YouTube.

“I like to spend time playing basketball with my brother; even though I suck because he’s a lot better, it’s still fun,” Lin said. “I actually really like creative writing. I like it as a form of expression. I tried to move on from mainstream adult pop fiction and read other stuff that is more valuable like interpretive fiction, which is not as exciting to read, but I think you still need to read [it].”

Lin is grateful for the influence and help his teachers and friends have given him, which has led to his success. He also credits his parents as the people who have had the biggest influence on him.

“I think one of the things that influenced me was, since I was born basically, they’ve instilled [in me] a good work ethic, taking initiative and taking opportunities,” Lin said. “I think they contributed a lot to who I am; they make me who I am.”

Despite being ranked first in his class, Lin has stayed humble, maintaining the values that a number does not define a person.

“I think that to people [my rank] has become a factor that actually defines who I am, and I think that an individual goes beyond class rank,” Lin said. “If you have a lower class rank, that means you have other sides to you other than what you do in school. If you have a higher class rank, that shouldn’t define who you are, because it’s just one small part of your life. I think that the most important thing that you have to do in school is to just love what you learn, and I think that’s one of the reasons why I got a high class rank.”

Lin is honored to be the Valedictorian of the class of 2019. He will try to maintain the lessons he has learned in high school throughout his life, but does not believe his rank should be a factor that defines him going into college.

“One of my friends told me that people see college as a new start,” Lin said. “If you bring anything from high school into college then it seems like you’re just dwelling on high school and not moving on, so I think it’s important to keep what you have in high school in mind, but also mainly look towards the future and not dwell in the past.”