CHS 2019 Class Valedictorian Nate Kim Has Big Plans For The Future - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Island News

CHS 2019 Class Valedictorian Nate Kim Has Big Plans For The Future

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Posted: Friday, July 12, 2019 5:17 pm

When Nate Kim, his mother Grace Kim and I met last week for our interview, the Kim Family had just returned from a trip to South Korea with a stopover in Hawaii to visit relatives. And that is a literal description as they completed their return flight earlier that day. When asked to rate his level of jet lag at the outset of the roughly 40 questions he was about to be asked in the next hour, Kim smiled and replied, “Actually it’s about a four, so it’s not that bad. I got to sleep on the plane.”

The Kim Family includes Elbert Kim, who is the Head Pastor of the First United Methodist Church in La Mesa; Grace, who teaches Chemistry, AP Chemistry, and is the Academic League Coach at Coronado High School; Nate; and younger brother Daniel Kim, who will be entering eighth grade at Coronado Middle School in the fall.

Born in Anaheim and a long-time San Diego area resident, Nate is taking his hefty 4.73 grade point average to the East Coast and Brown University. There he plans to major in a program that is increasingly rare in education, an eight-year course of study called Liberal Medical Education that includes four years of undergraduate work and early acceptance to medical school. The program has an overall acceptance rate for applicants of just 3.7 percent.

Kim explained, “You do a full undergrad degree and study whatever you want, with some requirements that aren’t that extensive. I plan to major in Psychology. And the next four years you do Med School. You don’t have to take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) and I won’t have to stress about my grades as much. And one of the big reasons is they also have a nice Club Lacrosse Team, so I can do that for fun too.”

Kim follows the fortunes of the NFL’s New England Patriots, which played into his choice of colleges. “I’m a big-time Patriots fan and Brown is the closest Ivy League school to Gillette Stadium (home of the Patriots). It’s just a 20-minute bus ride. In my application essay, I said that’s why I wanted to go to Brown.”

A couple of fun facts about Kim include if he hadn’t gotten into the medical program at Brown, Harvard University was his back-up school. Also, Kim took all of the Advance Placement Classes offered at Coronado High School, with the exception of Spanish, because he took French instead. And it turns out the toughest teacher he faced came during his sophomore year when he took AP Chemistry, and it was his mother. “Out of all the science classes I took, I received at least one A+ except ironically in my Mom’s class,” Nate said. Grace Kim, seated immediately next to her son during our interview said simply, “He deserved an ‘A’.”

Don’t get the impression that Nate Kim’s life is confined to scholastic pursuits. At CHS Kim was involved in a club called Days for Girls, which he described. “Basically, it’s a small chapter of a global organization. We created menstrual kits for women and girls in impoverished countries, providing them with a hygienic solution that occurs during menstrual cycles. In many countries, girls aren’t allowed to go to school during that time. We help them not lose any educational opportunities and give them kits that include reusable menstrual pads and the education to use them. We had 10 consistent members in the club.”

Kim is a self-confessed movie aficionado, whose current favorite flick is a Korean movie he watched on the plane on the way home, “The Dude in Me.” He has also been playing the piano for 13 or 14 years, which Grace said, “He does that to de-stress before he works.”

And Nate had a varied athletic career, including three years of lacrosse in middle school. “I wanted to play lacrosse in high school, but I played football my freshman year and had two minor concussions, so I took a break from contact sports. I was in track for two years and my senior year I played lacrosse. I played attack and midfield.”

As for his favorite experiences at CHS Kim said, “One had to be Grad Night at Universal Studios and hanging out with friends. And Coaching Powder Puff Football junior year. It was fun to teach the girls how to play football. At our first practice, they didn’t know what the line of scrimmage was, and they were just standing everywhere. It was fun coaching them.”

Another extracurricular activity was the Islander Academic League Team, which went undefeated during their regular season, qualifying for the Southern San Diego District Semi-Finals. “Our big win was against Patrick Henry,” Kim recalled. “A team we don’t usually win against. This year we won comfortably, it was stressful but still fun. We couldn’t make it past the first round of the playoffs, but it was nice to get to the post-season. Our Seniors weren’t as strong as in previous years and we were carried by the Juniors.” And as Coach Grace Kim quickly added, “We had some sophomores who were very good. I’m confident in the future.”

And according to Kim, there were lessons to be learned from his four years of Academic League participation. “Besides teamwork, probably just taking the initiative for your own actions, including being on time and being supportive of everyone. My Mom took over the team my sophomore year and she really hammered on being on time for the matches and being responsible in everything we did.”

Graduation Night about one month ago included his Valedictory Address and a special family grad moment. “The theme of my address was how you can’t be prepared for everything and if you want something to happen, do it yourself. My emotions were everywhere, excited, sad and nervous. Once I got on stage, all of that went away and I was just happy to be there. The highlight was walking down and getting my diploma from my Mom. I had seen other faculty members give diplomas to their kids and I was really looking forward to getting my own diploma from my Mom.”

If on a whim Kim decides to purchase New England Patriots season tickets, or maybe just rent a party bus for the regular season home opener against Grace’s favorite team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, he’s received financial awards aplenty in recognition of his four years of academic excellence. He received a $3,500 award from Sharp Grossmont Hospital where he volunteered for three years for a total of 540 hours; an Achievement Scholarship from AXA Financial for $2,500; the Sunflower Scholarship from the Chelsea King Scholarship Foundation for $2,000; and the Edward J. Sheil Memorial Scholarship, traditionally awarded to the Class Valedictorian, by the CHS Faculty for $12,000. Or alternatively, he could just purchase the textbooks for his first year at Brown. 

Kim is appreciative of the support of several CHS faculty members. “I had Bill Lemei the longest, for Algebra II, Trigonometry, and Physics I and II. He wrote one of my main letters of recommendation. He also spent time in class to cover topics related to the subject, like how to live your life. I enjoyed his tangents and was always excited to see what he had to say. He has read a lot, studied a lot and it was very interesting to be in his class. I want to thank my school Counselor Deborah Collins and Sandra Davis who taught AP Calculus. And my former middle school lacrosse Coach Mike Kidd. I was bummed I couldn’t have him for high school. Plus, I really liked AP Psychology with Dianne Chrisman, which is one reason I am majoring in that subject.”

Kim heads off for Brown University Aug. 28 and he discussed his summer plans. “Well, one was going to Korea. And from now until I leave, I plan to spend time with my family, which has always been a big thing. And maybe spending time with friends if they are still here. One of my friends left to go to Japan yesterday, but luckily another good friend Andrew Needham is also going to Brown, so I’ll see him there.”

A quick glimpse into the mind of a scholar is the answer to the question, ‘What is your favorite book and why?’ Kim said in response, “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi. It’s an autobiography of a former neurosurgeon and it just worked as a perspective on his life. He studied hard and finished at the top of his class, easily finishing med school. Unfortunately, he contracted Stage 4 lung cancer and passed away a few years later. He wrote the book to reflect on his life, that he should have spent more time with his loved ones and friends, but he died without any regrets in his life. His perspective was to take nothing for granted and take what life has to offer.”

Kim is a fan of books, as opposed to E-books. “I tried E-books and I don’t like them. I like physically being able to turn the pages and the feel of a book.” Brown requires that one book be read by incoming freshmen, which is “The Idiot” by Elif Batuman, published in 2017 and a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Final thanks from Nate Kim go to his parents and to the Soroptimist Clubs of Coronado and La Mesa. And doing some quick math, I’m pleased that about the time I may face the prospect of one or more knee replacement surgeries, that Dr. Nathaniel Kim, MD will be around to make that happen.

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