Farewell Seniors: A step into the ‘Real World’

Jessica Lin, Staff Writer

Woodson gives its best wishes to our seniors as they get a step closer to their dreams.  Whether they travel to a different state, country, or stay with their roots, after this year they are leaving public education and the bubble around it.  Now a big step closer to the “real world”, there are certainly going to be changes.  Let’s hear our seniors’ take on their plans, expectations and dreams.  

Ashley Yang is a Korean-American who was born in Korea. Her parents were born in Korea and came to America for College and graduate school.  Yang moved to the D.C. area at a young age and has been here ever since.  Over the course of her highschool years, she has taken a variety of APs and has been actively involved in chorus.  Outside of school she roots for her younger brother in soccer games, bakes for friends and family, and has reached a black belt in taekwondo.  Below is a snapshot of Yang in the final weeks of her senior year at Woodson before she heads off to Wellesley College.  



Melody Wang is a Chinese-American born in Houston, Texas.  After her parents had a job change, Wang moved to Shenzhen, China in fifth grade.  After lots of catching up in material and language, Wang is now fluent in both Chinese and English.  She moved back to America for highschool and is now a senior after four years at Woodson. Aside from academic classes, Wang had been a cellist of Woodson’s highest orchestra, Philharmonic orchestra, and a co-president of the Chinese Student Association.  She revived Woodson’s Chinese Student Society as an underclassman and now hands it off as she prepares to go to Carnegie Mellon.



Q: What do you think will be the biggest difference between HS and college socially?


A: (Ashley Yang) I decided to go to an all women’s school, so I … there will

be a slightly different experience going into an environment where it’s all women.  Also, I’m going up to Boston where I don’t know anybody. So I guess transitioning to a new environment will also be something that is going to happen.  I’m going to be so homesick, like I’m going to miss this neighborhood so much.


A:(Melody Wang) It will be a completely different experience in a new environment.  You are going to need to really push yourself out there to make friends and get to know everyone around you.  It’s going to take a lot of work trying to get accustomed to how things are run in college socially.  You are going to need to meet your professors and communicate with them.  You are going to need to work with classmates to learn and collaborate with them.  I am not a very extraverted person… so the most challenging thing for me would be making the first move to get to know other people. In college I want to be more active and make the first move to put myself out there to make new friends. Another challenge will be leaving home…[since] your family can’t always be behind your back.  You will have to learn to be independent and rely on yourself.


Q: What do you think will be the biggest difference between HS and college academically? 


A:(Ashley Yang) Up until highschool everything was set for you.  To a certain degree that is still there 

in college, like you need a certain amount of credits to graduate, but at the same time you get to choose what you want to study, and also you are in charge of your own education.  Starting in college you have to learn because it’s your choice and you have to motivate yourself and you are away from your parents so you just need to be on top of it.


A: (Melody Wang) Good academic skills require good time management skills because you will be in charge of allocating your time to use your time efficiently and also having a good work-play balance.  The challenge is really about finding the balance between how much you socialize and how much you study, and other miscellaneous tasks.  So that would be a really great challenge.  College academics are probably a lot more rigorous than in highschool so you will need to find good study techniques to keep up with your work.  

Q: What do you think will be the biggest difference between HS and college personally?


A: (Ashley Yang) I’ve been in the same area for basically 18 years of my life.  Even if the people were new, I was familiar with where I was like the environment and the location.  Now that I’m going to Boston everything will be new.  I won’t know where anything is or any of the people there so I’m basically starting from scratch.  Adjusting to a new environment because I’ve never really done that before.  


A: (Melody Wang) When I’m in a new environment, I tend to be like a deer in headlights.  Sometimes I’m just really scared to push myself out of my comfort zone and I’m just scared to be exposed to a new environment and familiarize myself with it.  In college I definitely want to be able to push myself out of my comfort zone and try new things and not lock myself up in my circle of familiarity because that way I can’t really grow if I just stay in the same place all four years.  I really want to challenge myself and actively pursue opportunities.  Something I really regret about highschool is not being very active in snatching all those opportunities and trying to find opportunities for myself. In college I definitely want to be more aware of the opportunities there are and to make plans for myself. 




Q: Which college did you choose and why?


A: (Ashley Wang) I decided to go to Wellesley college in Boston, Massachusetts because it is a really good liberal arts school and it is really strong in the department I’m interested in which is psychology.  Also, they gave me a lot of financial aid and I really like the location because it’s near Boston.


A: (Melody Wang) In the end, I chose Carnegie Mellon because first of all there was just so much breadth and depth in the majors they offered.  There were many academic opportunities to explore your interests.  For Carnegie Mellon everyone goes in undecided and you choose your major by the end of your sophomore year, so there are just two years for you to completely explore the academic curriculum and find where your passions are.  I would really like to utilize that time to further create new interests and to pinpoint something I would really like to do for the rest of my life.  Also, Carnegie Mellon has a lot of internship and job opportunities.  It boils down to I feel like the whole community is really active and driven. There are so many resources for you to take advantage of as well.   



Q: What are your interests?


A: (Ashley Yang) I am into psychology but I am open to other options, I also want to take a few art and design classes.  I’ve always been really into art so anything in that spectrum, like I’m also interested in photography. Also I’ve been singing since elementary school so I will probably join a singing group.


A: (Melody Wang) Academically I would like to explore the statistics and data science path because Carnegie Mellon has really good resources for that.  But also since Carnegie Mellon really focuses on interdisciplinary learning, there are so many blends between data science and other academic areas.  Like data science and econ, and data science and machine learning so I would really like to explore that.  Other interests outside of academics, I really want to keep practicing the cello and I am personally really passionate about learning different languages and cultures.  I really want to continue taking Spanish classes and exploring new languages too.  I also often self-study new languages like Korean and Japanese, but it’s kind of hard self-studying so I also want to take Japanese or Korean classes.  I just want to keep on building up on my knowledge in these languages.  

Q: How do you plan to continue to explore your various interests in college?(Clubs)


A: (Melody Wang) I plan on taking language courses in college, and I might try out for the orchestra at Carnegie Mellon as well.  At Carnegie Mellon you are allowed to take classes across six colleges so I’m just planning on taking advantage of that and dabbling on courses across all different majors just to find new interests or to see what I’m actually passionate about.


Hopes and Dreams:


A: (Ashley Yang)I have two tentative plans for my future or future jobs.  One of them is in psychology. I’m not sure if it’s a specific job or a broader [area of interest].  It’s an industrial organizational psychologist, so… what they do is they are hired by workplaces to analyze their work space and then try to improve the efficiency of theworkers.  In order to do that I need a masters or PhD in psychology so that’s like nine more years of school.

I also really like writing and travelling so when I was younger I always thought it would be fun to be hired by a travel magazine and get to travel around the world and get to see different hotels and locations and write reviews on their experience.  So I have always thought that would be interesting as well.  I’ve looked it up and to get into that job, apparently you have to make your own travel blog and keep updating it even before you are hired whenever you go somewhere and then send those articles to magazines so they know what kind of writing style you have. 


Q: Is a gap year for me?


A: (Melody Wang) I think gap years are definitely a really great way to slow down and think about what you want to get from the college experience. [It is also a good way to] prepare yourself mentally and physically before you enter college.  A lot of people end up taking gap years because they want more time for themselves to think and work on themselves before exposing themselves to a four year college environment.  I think it’s a good way to gain work experience, volunteer experience, or just to finish up on course work.  I know people who used their gap year to travel around the world or to make money.  It was to open up their horizons and to try to be independent.  I would like to do that too but decided not to because I feel like people who decide to take gap years need to be really driven and productive.  For me, I think if I took a gap year I would just be in my house all day and not know what to do, so I personally  didn’t take a gap year because I need to be driven by my environment so I have to go to college to be productive.