Nearly fourteen (14) years of gradual becoming embodied with academic grit and distinctive grace, former 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 top rank.
Hyo Sang has always been a fan of SCIENCES and MATHEMATICS 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 the theoretical aspects of her innate skills is Hyo Sang’s admirable talent as a promising dancer.
She had been a regular performer under the supervision of 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 could trigger unwanted stress which she then managed through the healthy escape she had allotting time for her passion.
It was until Hyo Sang officially became an IBDP student that she had to give up her first love due to its hectic schedule. But Hyo Sang still found a way to continue what she started and eventually discovered her love for Yoga. She was the youngest Yoga teacher elected for the International Yoga Alliance. Hence, Hyo Sang grew up in an unconventional yet rewarding 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 a more engaging, creative, and productive learning 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 not 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 everyday 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 are what I exemplified the most. Mental and physical well being are directly linked to academic success as studying requires stamina and focus.”