Class of ‘19 Valedictorian Ryan Vuong Did Not Choose the “Vuong” Path


photo/Eden Yu

Ryan Vuong is many things before valedictorian. He is a teacher, he is a learner, he is a volunteer, he is a gamer, he is a friend. Although CHS may be celebrating him today for accumulating the highest GPA of his class and successfully taking the most rigorous classes, there are so many deeper dimensions within him that are worthy of sharing.

Vuong will be attending University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as an undeclared life science major. UCLA particularly stood out to him because of the Regents Scholarship it offered. This scholarship gives Vuong priority enrollment and a monetary grant. UCLA’s amiable students and closeness to home were other attractive factors for Vuong.

Vuong plans on majoring in a STEM field, but remains flexible and open-minded about his actual major and future career. Anything from becoming a professor to working as a physician interests him. Vuong is thinking primarily of pursuing life science because of his experience taking a genetics course at Pomona College.

“I’ve temporarily decided to go into life sciences because it’s interesting to learn about how changes at the cellular level can drastically influence how things function overall,” Vuong said.

Vuong’s affinity for STEM is reflected in his past extracurriculars. Vuong participated in robotics, was a member of Science Olympiad, and volunteered at a hospital in recreational therapy. He also worked a job as a tutor for young children, partook in the speech and debate team, and managed clubs such as California Scholarship Federation.

But do not assume that Vuong is just as stiff and mechanical as the robots he has built. Vuong may be interested in STEM, but he holds an unexpected passion for Spanish as well. Ever since taking Honors Spanish 3 and AP Spanish 4 under retired CHS teacher Ms. García-López, Vuong thought of continuing his Spanish learning career in college. Although he may be an undeclared major, one thing is slightly more certain: Vuong is going to minor in Spanish.

“I just really like how learning other languages opens up doors that were previously closed,” Vuong said. “It has the potential to allow me to communicate with people I never would have been able to communicate with before and connects me with different cultures that I never could have experienced without Spanish.”

Throughout his four years as a CHS student, Vuong encountered a handful of friends and teachers who helped him become who he is today. Vuong would like to thank Mr. DiGiulio, Mr. Easton, Dr. Arboleda, Ms. Bodnar, and his counselor, Ms. Hebert. His close friends Thomas Huang, Akheel Mohideen, Rajan Shivaram, Tennyson Schaina, and Bryan Roebini, whom he bonded with in AP Chemistry his sophomore year, added fun to monotonous school days and made sleepless nights less lonely through conversing on Discord.

“That’s what’s most important about high school: making friends and connections,” Vuong said. “At the end of the day, you aren’t going to remember chapter 7 of chemistry. You’re going to remember your friends and the people you met.”

Vuong feels relatively ready to take on UCLA and will spend a relaxed summer hanging out with friends, working, and playing Zelda or Super Smash Bros. Although Vuong’s experience at CHS may not have been as violent or intense as Link’s at Hyrule, the lessons he has learned and the battles he has faced were just as impactful and memorable. Future adventure awaits Vuong, including future game releases, future friends, and future teachers. His past, however, will also be remembered here at CHS — his work, his character, and his brilliance.