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Classical Contributor

Well-Rounded Reagan Student Excels

By Amy Morgan

 

At first glance, Kathy He looks like any other successful, involved high school student. The outgoing Reagan senior enjoys the camaraderie of playing on the Rattlers’ varsity tennis team, holds the office of President of her senior class, participates in school clubs, volunteers and maintains close relationships with her family.

But her profile starts to diverge from peers when she describes her favorite high school experience as her trip this summer to the Junior Classical League (JCL) National Convention where the participants share a love of all things Latin. Fifteen hundred people meet together annually to compete in classical art and grammar as well as hear lectures about related topics.

Kathy said she loved the talent show, the mixers, and shouting her state’s chant “at the top of her lungs” with likeminded peers who all consider Latin cool. Kathy even served as First Vice President for the Texas JCL chapter, recruiting professors to lecture, ordering thousands of trophies and editing rules for contests. She’s so committed, Kathy plans to attend the convention again this summer even after graduation because, “the community is so amazing,” she enthused.

 

Kathy was first introduced to Latin in fifth grade while attending Basis charter school. She continued studying the language at Reagan and counts AP Latin class with Mrs. Laura Shaw as her favorite, because the teacher is “very supportive. She feels like my mom at school,” Kathy said. Mrs. Shaw makes class fun, inviting students to practice writing grammar charts on graham crackers with icing instead of the traditional paper and pen, an activity appropriately titled Graham Grams. 

 

Kathy’s family, including older sister, Ruiqi, immigrated from China 20 years ago and remain fluent in Chinese. Kathy’s mom is an ICU nurse; her father an immunologist at the UT Health Science Center. While his original field was researching HIV, he switched to COVID during the pandemic. Kathy has volunteered in his lab and was thrilled to help document rates of Covid positivity across cohorts by analyzing DNA. This experience, and her time volunteering at Camp Camp, have inspired her to consider a career in health care - perhaps biomedical engineering.

 

For the past two summers, Kathy has served as a mentor helping campers with special needs have a normal camp experience. Although both years the particular camping buddy with whom she spent the most time was a middle-aged adult, she bonded with a young boy who, despite the loss of a leg, enjoyed singing and dancing. Kathy is interested in learning more about how to build prosthetics to help others like him also enjoy a full life.

 

Ranked number 10 in her class and in the top 1.2%, Kathy hopes her application to Brown will be accepted. Until then, she has plenty on her plate with her singles tennis season upcoming and senior class activities to plan.

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