Hannah Chen (Class of 2019)

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All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.
— Gandalf

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

“I feel like what do most often is, in any free time I have, just hang out with friends or just like talking. We never really go out and do things, we just kind of like being around each other usually. But if I have actual time, just to do hobbies or something, it’d probably be something music- or art-related.”

So you’re the president of JETS. Anything other exec positions? How’s JETS doing?

“No, just JETS. I felt like it was too big of a time commitment. I didn’t want to lose focus to do something else and have both clubs end up not being as meaningful, just because I felt like it would take a lot of time. As for JETS, it’s been doing pretty good. I felt like its been a wild ride because we basically have things to do the entire year. For example, we’re not events-based, so we’ve just been busy the entire time which has definitely been tough at times, but I think now that we’re nearing the end, it’s been really rewarding. And I think we’ve done a fairly decent job. I can’t really tell just because we’re now on the other side, but I’ve had a really good time doing it and I feel like all of us have learned a lot and I really hope that people who have been a part of it have also been learning things. But all in all, it’s been a lot of work, like it takes about as much time as school work most of these days. One thing is that after college starts, it will be interesting to be a member again, but I don’t regret being an exec it for sure.”

What was your most memorable moment at TAMS?

“I have a pretty memorable moment from Junior year during a night when most of the people in our wing were out. I don’t know what it was for, but lots of people were just out that day. Maybe it was for a competition or something, but there weren’t a lot of people and so we just had a dance party in one our rooms, like someone just got lights and a speaker, and somehow we didn’t get docked for quiet hours or anything, but it was really fun because a lot of us were just in there having fun. So that was a lot of fun, and then I also think when we moved in Senior year, I thought that was pretty memorable just because we felt so new but different at the same time, and it wasn’t the event that was memorable, it was just the feeling to be back and seeing all the people that you actually know. I thought that was pretty cool.”

Do you have any advice for incoming Juniors and upcoming Seniors?

“I feel like, to the current Juniors who are about to Seniors, I would advise them to keep track of their priorities, so focus on what matters like relationships with people and growing as a person. You don't need to focus the entire time on titles or grades specifically. You want to make the most out of the time you have here because I feel like it actually went by very very fast. So obviously you want to pay attention yours grades and things like that, but it’s all very fleeting and as long as you have a good time and you’re enriching yourself, I feel like it will all work out in the end. For our grade I guess, it would just be to have a good time wherever you go after TAMS and keep your eyes ahead to whatever future is in your path because I feel like everyone has a lot of things going for them. As for the incoming Juniors, try to find things at TAMS that you like and get involved in things that you enjoy, but don’t try to stretch yourself too thin and don’t be afraid to try things that are new to you but also don’t force yourself.”

What do you think were the best and worst things about TAMS?

“I feel like the best is just exposure in general to things that you wouldn’t have had back in your old school especially for me specifically. It was pretty different from my old high school. I don’t know if it’s like that for everyone else, but for me at least, it was very different in every aspect. For example, academically it was very different and so I got exposed to a lot of different classes like subject matter-wise and then teaching style-wise and classmate-wise, like the way we interacted in the classroom depending on what it was, and other stuff like that. So all of that was very new. And also socially, I think, I was exposed both to a lot of new cultures that I don’t really think I had the chance to see before, but also just the different types of people. I’m not saying I didn’t see these types of people back at my old high school, but maybe I just wasn’t as close to them, but I just didn’t have the chance to be as close to them as opposed to here the entire time we’re here around the same people and are exposed to them. So you get to see kind of the in’s and out’s of people that you maybe wouldn’t have interacted with in other places. So I think that’s the best thing, like being able to become exposed to those kinds of diverse things. I feel like the worst thing here was certain things about TAMS culture such as sleep culture, like obviously the glorification of not getting sleep and overworking yourself, I feel like that’s pretty bad. I think it’s the mentality that you have be doing just more and more things to make them matter when you could maybe just focus on one thing. Just because you’re not busy 100% of the time doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong, so I think that’s one of the worst things. I guess you could also say that cliques can be kind of damaging if you’re not in a certain group that you want to be in, but that’s probably something you will see at any other high school and probably after high school.”

What are your plans after TAMS?

“I don’t know, I mean, I’m definitely going into a engineering and tech field. That’s something that I found out at TAMS though and partly through JETS. Before TAMS I didn’t have any engineering or tech experience at all and it was definitely a surprise that I got involved in JETS as much as I did and I’m definitely glad I did, but I think I realized I wanted to do engineering and tech. There are some things I haven’t fully figured out yet, like if I’m just going to start working after undergrad or if I’m going to go to grad school or if I want to go down the research and academic route or the industrial route, so I haven’t decided fully on that, but I think set path because I can always go back to grad school after I work for a while. It’ll be something related to that, it’ll probably be computer science-related. If I were to do research, I think I’d want to be focused on artificial intelligence or cognitive science. That’d probably also be what’d I’d work on if I were to work at a company as well. But there’s nothing fully set in stone yet, actually. I never really had a dream school in the sense that I just didn’t know what I wanted to do yet and my parents always said ‘it isn’t the name of the school, its if it’s good for what you’re wanting to do’ so there was never one school that specifically stood out to me. Also, I thought ‘oh maybe those schools are a reach for me, maybe I should be more realistic,’ but at the moment, I’ve gotten into Caltech, and I really like that school. There are a lot of similar things there to TAMS such a the size and a STEM focus, but hopefully the good things community-wise are also similar. I did enjoy the TAMS experience so I don’t think I would hate it there, but I did still apply to some regular places, but we’ll see. I definitely have that and I think that’s one of my top choices so yeah, that’s about it.”

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