Nearly fourteen (14) years of gradual becoming armed with academic grit and distinctive grace, formerly non-English speaking student Hyo Sang Kwak recently completed her International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme with the Highest Honors at Southville International School and Colleges (SISC). Hyo Sang is a homegrown Monarch who started at junior prep. Hyo Sang is an only child and was raised in the Philippines. She is known by the nicknames “Hyo” and “4.0” (four point ohhh) referring to her GPA score. Hyo Sang impressively exemplified a Monarch’s grit and growth mindset through her impressive journey to the top rank.
Hyo Sang has always been fascinated by the SCIENCES and MATHEMATICS subjects which boosted her interest to serve in the health sector one day, “I naturally devote a lot of my time studying these subjects. I am not bad in subjects like literature or history, but I do not possess the same enthusiasm for these subjects than I do for sciences and mathematics. I absolutely love Biology and Chemistry and look forward to studying these subjects all my life.” But more than her innate academic competency is her admirable talent as a promising ballerina.
She was groomed by one of the country’s top ballet companies, earning her the confidence and balance which she possesses in her academic and personal ventures. Being a Monarch, especially an IBDP student, the rigor of her school life would take most of her time for academics alone. It was until Hyo Sang officially became an IBDP student that she had to give up her first love due to its hectic schedule. “Ballet was my ten-long years of devotion; however I eventually quit to focus on my academics.” She’s the youngest Yoga teacher appointed for the International Yoga Alliance. Hence, Hyo Sang grew up in an unconventional yet nurturing environment that honed her physical and mental well being at its finest.
A student, a teacher – an achiever. Indeed, Hyo Sang had the best times of her life spent at Southville joining local and international academic competitions combined with a passion to keep her game up at all times, “Ballet and yoga indeed played a key role in my mental stability, and thus my academic performance. Firstly, it reinforced the no pain no gain mindset. Like building muscles in physical activities, I learned that studying was about practicing and strengthening the brain muscles. Secondly, being able to quickly pick up steps in ballet and poses in yoga helped me with my memory ability. Thirdly, leaping across the stage in ballet and meditation practices in yoga released my academic stress. Ballet and yoga helped me forget my worries and reset my academic motivation.”
Hyo Sang Kwak had her English language proficiency honed through Southville’s ESL program and the school’s “English Only” culture. Students also undergo intensive preparation both for the TOEIC and TOEFL examinations. Verbal and written activities for English proficiency are also implemented by the school to establish an engaging, creative, and productive learning scheme of the said language. Hyo Sang recently returned to Korea to pursue further studies in the medical field and is set to take up Biochemistry.
Her journey demonstrates different ways to survive the demands of IBDP as one of the world’s most challenging academic programs. As global education is battled by the fittest, or what scholars call “survivors”, Hyo Sang assured herself of a balanced mental and physical strength. Also, she highly valued time management and consistency to maintain her spot on top rank while still being able to live her life to the fullest without neglecting her passion. Indeed, Hyo Sang Kwak is an epitome of a Monarch’s intellectual versatility.
“There are posters about grit and growth mindset on the walls of the classrooms, the hallways, and every corner of the school. Being constantly reminded about the difference of growth and fixed mindset, I am influenced every day to readjust my behavior and attitude towards my studies in a more growth mindset perspective. I like placing my best effort in the things I do, I am a perfectionist, and I am really fond of dancing. Among Southville’s 5Cs, Commitment to Achieve and Creativity is what I exemplified the most. Mental and physical well being are directly linked to academic success as studying requires stamina and focus.”
– Hyo Sang Kwak
Highest Honor, IBDP Class 2019