Scholarly student exceeds expectations
By EMMA CHANG
Whether it be programming the school’s newest mobile app, teaching his peers how to hack the web or arguing for controversial evidence in a mock courtroom, senior Kalvin Chang excels at everything he does.
For the past four years, Chang has progressed into what can only be described as utmost scholastic brilliance. Chang’s unrelenting endeavors have resulted in countless accomplishments, including “Best Game” and first place in the Congressional App Challenge, Leadership and Service Award from Principal Danielle Kenfield, creation of a new mobile message app for the school and participation in Association of California School Administrators and Lion’s Club speech competitions.
As the sole founder of Wilson’s first computer science club, CODE, Robotics member, outreach captain and community mentor in the FIRST Tech Challenge, stellar violinist, Pretrial Mock Trial Attorney and early Carnegie Mellon commit, it is clear Chang is truly not your average computer science whiz.
Chang’s love for programming began during his childhood years and eventually influenced many of his decisions in his early high school life, where he noticed the absence of programming integration in the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program.
“I have always had an interest in computer science,” Chang said. “Going into my freshman year, I was shocked to find that the only STEM related organizations available were Science Olympiad and Robotics, which I had already joined.”
While noticing the lack of computer science organizations on campus, Chang also stumbled across his passion for teaching.
“I trained five new prospective programmers with the Java software that I had [previously] taught myself,” Chang said. “I discovered [that] I really liked teaching coding and thought, ‘Why don’t I bring coding to Wilson?’”
In sophomore year, Chang created CODE in order to take initiative and pursue his interests.
“I wanted to be apart of a group purely focused on computer science, because, even with STEM programs, computer programming still was not a big portion in Robotics competitions,” Chang said.
Even today, Chang continues to focus most of his time on CODE to improve its overall performance.
“CODE is where I put the majority of my effort in and feel the most connection with. [Leading] CODE has made me become like a mother to the club in that I am always worried about the club’s future success” Chang said.
Unfortunately, as a result of his newfound interests, Chang had to rearrange his priorities, which eventually forced him to make several sacrifices with his lifelong love of playing violin but luckily, Chang soon reached a solution that allowed him to continue excelling both of the things he loved.
“Ever since first grade, I played violin to prepare for a Certificate of Merit. [However], practicing soon [became] difficult, since robotics season became more intense,” Chang said. “In the end, I forced myself to practice [violin] before starting homework when I got home late from robotics.”
As a result, Chang earned the highest scores possible on the Level 9 CM exam and was invited to perform at the Branch Honors Recital. Subsequently, Chang quickly learned much about the importance of putting himself before his resume.
“I was shocked, but I was not as happy as I thought I would be, because music had devolved into a resume builder instead of a hobby,” Chang said.
Eventually, the difficulties of his sophomore year pressed Chang to drop violin farther down on his list of priorities, and he soon stopped playing.
While in high school, Chang also pursued opportunities in political science where he gained a valuable skill set.
“[In Mock Trial], I have learned to appreciate the grey area characteristic of politics and how to deliver impromptu speeches, [which] undoubtedly pulled me out of my black and white worldview and even [sparked] my interest in political science.”
Chang credits his father’s efforts for always inspiring him to do his best and follow his passions.
“Despite not having a college education, my father never gave up, worked hard to earn his money and eventually went from a status of poverty in Taiwan to the middle class in the United States,” Chang said.
Chang constantly reflects on the last four years as a both positive and negative learning experience that taught him much about himself.
“In my sophomore year, I signed myself up for way too many things, [so] trying to balance my responsibilities in Robotics, Mock Trial, CODE and normal school work pushed me to a point where I was always pushing myself to compete with everyone else,” Chang said. “Finally, I realized that it only matters that I am happy with what I do.”
Above all else, Chang stresses the importance of a healthy balance between work and mental health.
“Knowing your own limits is crucial or else [you will] come to a point where you are constantly exhausted and do not have the energy to continue on,” Chang said. “It is better to concentrate your energy on a few extracurriculars, so you can relax.”
Looking forward, Chang aspires to pursue his passions at Carnegie Mellon University with a major in Computer Science and a minor in Political Science. Simply stated, Chang’s admirable perseverance demonstrates the true value of one’s self over one’s worth.