By SRINIDHI VENKATESH ’22
Rebecca Cao ‘20, Vice President of National Honors Society, was the November Senior of the Month. Besides being Secretary of Mandarin Honors Society, Cao is a contributing member of The Eagle’s Eye and a violinist in the EHS Chamber Orchestra.
Beyond these accomplishments, however, Cao is primarily a writer. Reading voraciously since childhood, she finds language and writing particularly fascinating. These experiences have led her to her ventures in writing short stories, poems, and essays. Her novel pursuit includes speech writing. The freedom that writing affords her permits her to expand both her writing skills and collection, she says. Cao also credits some of her inspiration towards writing to her favorite books and their respective authors, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and Atonement by Ian McEwan.
Cao’s love for writing has inspired her to become either an attorney or English professor–while writing and publishing books, of course. The risks she takes in her writing, specifically she says “the staccatoed fragments, the lyrical anaphora,” help her build her creativity, a trait she treasures greatly. This love for writing helped her become one among ninety-two students across the nation to attend the prestigious Princeton Creative Arts and Humanities Symposium where she worked with several of the university’s professors over the course of a weekend.
She also credits the time she has spent in EHS with making her a better person overall. Cao thanks the many leadership positions she has been given in EHS as well as the many volunteering opportunities she has taken up at the Edison Public Library for helping her grow as a person. She believes that this journey has also helped her uncover her profound passion for the humanities. Her time in EHS has also gone on to diversify her view of the world.
Taking her time in EHS into account, Cao believes that taking risks will help you discover a passion that you will find worthwhile pursuing. Only by getting involved in school events that might seem scary, will you find your true passions. She also warns that the four years of high school will pass by quickly so be sure to enjoy each and every moment.
She also greatly appreciates the efforts of English teachers Mrs. Diane Frey and Mrs. Gina Corsun in supporting her each and every day. They have helped her pursue her passions in literature and language and have reminded her of the person she wants to be. Cao regards them as her inspiration to pursue her journey towards becoming the person she wants to be.
Brian Chan ‘20, a member of the STEM Academy at EHS is the December Senior of the Month. He is also the captain and an active member of the math team for the past four years. Beyond that, he is a member of the National Honors Society, Mu Alpha Theta Math Honors Society, and Science National Honors Society. Chan also participates in Quiz Bowl and has done research “at a Harvard-affiliated lab – Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging to study diffusion tensor imaging and white matter tractography,” he said.
Outside of school, he loves playing video games, taking inspiration from his brother. Chan particularly enjoys League of Legends (he plays under Kitsune Jiru) and has always been a fan of 5v5 games which require strategy, teamwork, and cooperation. He also enjoys swimming and hanging out with his friends.
He recalls one of his favorite moments at EHS being an end of the year Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart game with his teachers. “Shout out to Dr. Nasser for being a Mario Kart Pro,” Chen said. He also greatly thanks his sophomore year pre-calculus teacher and math team advisor, Ms. Michelle Downey, whom he believes has greatly shaped the person he is.
Chen believes that EHS has taught him a lot about community, particularly through his time with his STEM Academy cohort. Over his four years of high school, Chen has learned about teamwork and collaboration as he spent hundreds of hours with his ten fellow classmates. He believes that they have all learned lessons about themselves through their time spent together.
He recalls how his time in the STEM Academy has changed his perspective on both the school and the world. Entering freshmen year, Chen, along with many other members of his cohort believed purely in the value of grades. He mentions how all his classmates competed in who had the highest grades and was the smartest. This resulted in bullying, exclusion, unnecessary drama, and toxicity towards grades. Chen, however, also recalls the valuable lesson he learned from that year, that his attitude towards competitiveness had to change. He extols the importance of a collaborative environment where everyone would work towards being the best, while uplifting each other on their individual journeys, instead of pushing each other down.
His advice to underclassmen? “Cooperation over competition,” Chen said. “Comparing yourself to others won’t help you. Instead, focus on utilizing the support others provide, to improve yourself.”
That being said, he also hopes for improvements to the school, particularly expansion of crowded hallways, to facilitate the process of self-improvement, in students.
Taking into account his love for helping others as well as the valuable lessons he has learned in cooperation and helping others while helping yourself, Chen aptly has a favorite quote–Mahatma Gandhi’s “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”