Yuen Ng had a dream. Since fourth grade, she wanted to attend University of California, Berkeley.
“It took me eight years, but I finally accomplished my dream,” said this year’s Middle College High School valedictorian.
The Lodi resident will head there in the fall to major in biochemistry and molecular biology. In the next five years, Ng plans to learn to become a pharmacist and in 10, she will have graduated from pharmacy school and become a licensed pharmacist.
She already has a start on earning college degrees as she will leave Middle College with eight associate degrees in liberal arts and sciences, natural sciences, interdisciplinary studies, mathematics and science, social and behavioral sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities, and elementary education teacher preparation.
The high school is housed at San Joaquin Delta College, where students have the unique opportunity to earn college credit for free while attending public high school.
During her four years there, Ng was also a member of a number of clubs including Key Club, Multicultural and Ethnic Club, Sports Club, San Joaquin Delta College’s Chinese Language and Culture Club and the Vietnamese Student Association. She held positions of freshman justice, scribe and senior justice for the high school’s Honor Code Tribunal and was yearbook co-editor for the 2010-11 school year.
Ng said she went to Middle College against her parents’ hopes of her attending a traditional high school because she realized that Middle College had more to offer.
“I told my parents that if I worked hard and did well, I could possibly finish two years of my undergraduate education for free at a community college. Even though MCHS does not have many extracurricular activities, being able to take community college classes is definitely more rewarding,” she said, adding that students learn at a college environment, communicate with college instructors and students and discipline themselves. “MCHS puts much trust in their students to be responsible and mature.”
Her favorite class was algebra 2, and she was surprised at how quickly she picked up the material.
But the school didn’t offer many courses, Ng said, so she took most of her classes at Delta, where her favorite course was general chemistry. In fact, she never realized how much she loved chemistry until she took chemistry 1A and 1B and went on to score in the high 90th percentile on the American Chemical Society exams.
When asked what she does outside school, Ng said it is very rare for her to not study during the semesters — or be seen without her calculus book.
Her piece of advice for incoming freshman? Have fun.
“Your high school experience should be memorable. Learning and doing well in school are very important, but having an enjoyable high school experience is, too,” she said.
In the end, she ticks off a number of people who have contributed to her education, beginning with her family, who have given her moral support, and teachers, for making her high school experience so memorable.
Lastly, she thanked the San Joaquin Delta College instructors whose classes she enrolled in. “Instructors like Mrs. Patricia Hammer and Dr. Christopher Kim have continued to support me even after I finished their classes,” she said.
Ng counts among her most memorable high school experiences reading her acceptance letter from UC Berkeley. In fact, she can remember exactly where she was: In Budd 105 on the Pacific Avenue campus at 5 p.m. on March 25.
“I started screaming, crying and laughing,” she said.
The student also received the University of California, Los Angeles Dream Fund Scholarship worth $36,900.
She was born in Hong Kong and her family immigrated to the United States in 1998. Her parents are Chi Fat Ng and Tung Kieu Ng-Lam.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.