This is the RHS Valedictorian and Salutatorian
By Jennifer Ersalesi
On Thursday, June 20th, 2019, Rutherford High School Graduation took place at Washington School (due to weather conditions). This year the Valedictorian was Christopher Corcoran, who has a 4.56 GPA. The Salutatorian was Seo Young Jang who has a GPA of 4.47. Not only are both of these students academically successful, they have also demonstrated remarkable abilities in other areas. This is Rutherford had the opportunity to interview both Christopher and Seo Young to learn about their high school careers and their plans for the future.
TIR: Both of you managed to graduate with extremely high GPAs, how were you able to achieve such excellent academic success?
Christopher Corcoran: I guess it all started with a successful freshman year, as I had ~4.29 GPA coming out of freshman year. This set the foundation for continued success across all 4 of my years at RHS. In addition, I'm a naturally hard working person, so that helped motivate me towards academic success. Finally, my friends, family, classmates, and teachers created an environment in which I could excel.
Seo Young Jang: I think it’s most important to be an active learner. I always strive to learn beyond what is taught in the classroom. It’s crucial, of course, to learn material needed for tests and quizzes, and this can sometimes be done by sitting down and memorizing the information. However, I learned that this method of absorbing and spitting-back information is not effective in order to be a successful student. What really differentiates excellent students from good students is whether or not he/she will go the extra mile in order to learn more and not just do what is asked in order to get an A.
TIR: What types of activities have you been involved in throughout your time at RHS and in Rutherford over the years?
CC: I played soccer for RHS all 4 years, and was Captain of the team in my senior year. I was a part of National Honor Society, in which I was the Vice President, and a member of Spanish Honor Society, Varsity Club, Heroes and Cool Kids, and Psychology Club. Outside of RHS, I was an assistant coach for Rutherford Recreation Indoor Winter Soccer in my freshman year and an assistant coach at First Touch Soccer Camp during the summer before my junior and senior year.
SJ: Since my freshman year, I have been a part of RHS’s Interact Club, where I volunteered for the community of Rutherford. With this club, I did various events, such as collecting food for the Rutherford Food Pantry, volunteering for the many holiday parties at the Rutherford Co-Op Day Nursery, and volunteering for the annual Michael Cassidy Shamrock 'N' Run 5k. I also participated in various community service events through Spanish Club, National Honor Society, and Spanish National Honor Society. I also spent my Sundays volunteering for a nonprofit organization that helps individuals with disabilities.
TIR: Have you had any mentors throughout high school?
CC: I don't think I could say I had a specific mentor throughout high school. I think every single person around me, whether it was my family, friends, classmates, or teachers, taught me something that positively shaped me into the person that I am today. The great thing about this is that everyone teaches you something different, whether it is something about yourself or academic knowledge.
SJ: I definitely had a lot of teachers who shaped me into the student I am today. Thankfully, my guidance counselor and many of my teachers of RHS were readily available to help me throughout high school. In addition, I had many peer mentors, which was very helpful since we all went through similar situations and uplifted one another during harder times. Of course, my family was there to help me not only through high school, but also through the many ups and downs of life.
TIR: What did you learn most about yourself while attending RHS?
CC: While attending RHS, I learned that I am capable of achieving a lot more than I had previously thought. Prior to high school, I was not planning on being Valedictorian or ever being Captain of the varsity soccer team. Yet, I was dedicated to working hard inside the classroom and on the field. This hard work led to many of my accomplishments during high school.
SJ: I learned that I truly enjoy helping others in need. RHS provided me with many opportunities to help my community, which I appreciate. Unfortunately, high school wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine. However, this taught me that there is always light at the end of the tunnel and that I should allow myself to rest occasionally on my journey to achieving my goals, but should never give up completely.
TIR: What are your plans for the Fall?
CC: This fall, I will be attending Northeastern University in Boston to study Computer Engineering and Computer Science.
SJ: I plan to continue my academic career at the University of Michigan. I am excited to take advantage of the resources that the University of Michigan has to offer and become an even more successful student.
TIR: Now that you are a very successful high school graduate, what else do you look forward to in the future?
CC: Looking forward, I hope to continue my success into college and enjoy my time at Northeastern. At Northeastern, I will have the opportunity to take part in 3 coops with various companies. My dream would be that one of these coop providers offers me a job so that I can be apart of the workforce early after graduating from college.
SJ: I look forward to meeting new people, experiencing new cultures that I have not encountered while living in Rutherford, and continuing to seek ways in order to help my community and others in need. I am excited to continue to learn in college, but I am most excited to learn about what can’t be taught inside the classroom and what can only be learned through first-hand experiences. Overall, I am looking forward to being one step closer to achieving my dreams.