We enjoy staying in touch with our Elevations Foundation scholarship recipients to hear how college is going and what their plans are. Jay Kang is a graduate of Peak to Peak High School in Lafayette and the recipient of a 2018 M.R. Hellie Scholarship from Elevations Foundation. We caught up with Jay recently to see what he’s been up to and what advice he can offer to this year’s college-bound high school graduates.
Let’s start with the basics, Jay. Where are you going to school and what are you studying?
I’m attending Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, and while I’m undecided, I’m on the pre-med track right now.
What led you to apply for an Elevations Foundation scholarship?
I applied for the M.R. Hellie Scholarship because our family has been a part of Elevations Credit Union for a long time, and I, therefore, felt like the scholarship provided a familiar and accessible opportunity for me. I then started reading about the efforts of Elevations Foundation and its mission to support local and national communities through scholarships for higher education, relief efforts in times of natural disaster and support for local non-profit organizations.
I felt confident to apply for and accept the scholarship because I knew that the organization reading my application wanted to help me and tons of other people and organizations in order to make a positive community impact.
How has the transition to college life gone for you?
The transition to college life has been one of the most rewarding yet most challenging changes I’ve experienced. I remember the first week of classes, I felt completely lost–both figuratively and literally. Thankfully, I live in the era of Google Maps because I’ve definitely had a few times where I totally thought I was walking to my dorm just to end up on the wrong side of campus. The biggest difficulty for me though–despite the fact that my classes were faster and more challenging than any I had taken in high school, despite how I panicked for an hour figuring out how my laundry system worked, despite how I lived off snack wraps for a week straight because the dining hall was seven minutes too far–was having to start over socially. But, eventually, from my classes, floor and random interactions, I’ve met and become close to some of the most interesting and hardworking people I’m grateful to now know.
What’s surprised you about college?
The most surprising part of college is how you start to feel comfortable with being on your own. I was personally terrified to move a thousand miles away from home, knowing absolutely no one, having nothing but a bag of luggage and being expected to “thrive” immediately in this new environment. However I realized that, especially because of the friends you meet and the responsibilities you take on, you find a support network that helps you feel at home, and you start to find the rhythm of “adulating.” Of course, I still have a ways to go before I feel super adept at being independent (I once ran a load of laundry without any detergent), but I’m learning and loving the process much more than I expected.
What are you hoping to do when you complete your studies?
I really hope that I can pursue more studies at medical school, and while I don’t know which specialty I want to pursue, I’ve started the shadowing process and participating in medically-oriented clubs that have really inspired me to want to make a very tangible, positive impact in medicine. I obviously still have to study hard to complete the strenuous pre-med track, but I hope to use my education in a way where I can be passionate about what I do for the rest of my life while also making others’ lives better.
What advice would you offer current high school seniors as they prepare for college?
On a not-so-fun note, try to fight off senioritis for as long as you can. You’ll find missing assignments, skipping school and avoiding work at all costs will eventually catch up to you much more than simply staying caught up. Apply to scholarships, finish those projects and don’t stress out your parents.
On a much more fun note, once you graduate, go spend that last summer doing everything you can. Find time to appreciate what you have now! Friends, family, local restaurants, venues–home. Take a school night to go night hiking with your best friends, or go on a weekend road trip, or sing as loudly as you can at a concert for a band whose songs you barely know. You’ll treasure all of those memories so much when you’re far from home. Treat yo’self; you deserve it.
Elevations Foundation and Elevations Credit Union are proud to provide over $200,000 annually in scholarships to support students in our community like Jay Kang. The Elevations Foundation Scholarship application cycle is now open. View scholarship details and apply now before March 15, 2019. You can also help Elevations Foundation continue to provide these scholarships by making a donation.