By Heather Pilkington, Register Staff Writer
Gainesville Daily Register
“Friendly competition” was the term used to describe the race for Gainesville High School’s valedictorian and salutatorian.
Austin Sharp gave Hwang-Jae Yoon a run for his money when it came to who was going to be the valedictorian. Once the final standings were revealed, Yoon was named the Class of 2011’s valedictorian and Sharp as the salutatorian.
“Austin kinda made me worry a little bit, but it was my class in general,” Yoon said. “We are all very close and tight with good bonds of friendship, but very competitive. It’s one of the smallest classes to come through Gainesville with (120-plus) students. The quality of minds here, not just the top 10, but the whole class in general made me overall a better person, and I really enjoyed having the competition because I feel I wouldn’t be the person I am without the people around me.”
The honor of receiving the title of salutatorian Austin said, “(is) something to definitely be proud about because I’ve been working for it for so long. It’s 12 years of hard work and 12 years of battling and scheduling conflicts and stuff like that. Definitely, something to be proud of and that my family can be proud of.”
Both Yoon and Sharp have large plans slated for the fall.
“I am going to the University of Texas at Austin, but I am on the waiting list for Johns Hopkins University,” Yoon said. “It’s one of the best research schools. I think it is actually ranked higher than Harvard as the number one medical school.”
Yoon emphasized that he knew he wanted to be a medical professional in the future.
“I haven’t strayed from that goal since I decided I wanted to become a doctor,” Yoon said. “But I still have four years of undergraduate courses to figure out which area I am interested in.”
Sharp on the other hand has already completed 52 hours of course work at the college level through dual credit and early admission through North Central Texas College.
“I plan on attending Texas Christian University’s Honors Program,” Sharp said. “Since I already have 52 hours of credit now, I will be finishing out my last two and a half years there. My major is undecided, but I am probably leaning toward engineering or some other science-related field.”
When asked what tips they could offer their underclassmen, they both had different takes on the matter.
“Don’t procrastinate and you don’t want to base studying on memorization,” Yoon said. “If you memorize then you will surely get a good grade for the time being. It just doesn’t pay off for the long run. You need to thoroughly understand the topic so you can carry it with you forever. You can do anything as long as you know the process, no matter how hard it is.”
Interest in a topic was the emphasis for Sharp.
“I guess the biggest thing is, if you’re not interested or you can’t find a way to at least make yourself (interested) in the topic, then studying is going to be hard,” Sharp said. “So, I guess the biggest tip is to make yourself be interested in it. Make it something that you want to do and not something you force yourself to do.”
Both young men said they were involved in Key Club and band early in their high school careers. Yoon also mentioned his involvement in UIL events such as mathematics, calculator applications and number sense, as well as being a captain of the varsity golf team. Sharp emphasized the extracurricular activities he was his involved in consisted of the dual credit courses he has taken.
Yoon did touch on the fact that he took AP (advanced placement) courses on his own.