Graduation: Inspired to excel
by Jon Mendelson / Tracy Press
May 31, 2012 | 3509 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tracy High School valedictorian Karen Hoi is heading to University of California, Los Angeles, to study physiological science. Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
Tracy High School valedictorian Karen Hoi is heading to University of California, Los Angeles, to study physiological science. Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
Karen Hoi has made a name for herself at Tracy High School, even while following in the footsteps of her older sister.

Hoi, a 17-year-old senior Bulldog with a 4.59 GPA, will graduate as valedictorian Saturday, June 2, just as her sister, Kimberly, did in 2011.

“I feel like I need to live up to her,” Hoi said five days before graduating. “She’s inspired me a lot.”

In addition to the rest of her family — parents Naimgs Hoi and Sharon Chao and 24-year-old brother Julian — Hoi said plenty of people spurred her to reach for the academic heights, including friends, teachers and herself.

“What really inspired me was taking my biotechnology course with Mr. (Kirk) Brown,” she said, referring to the longtime science teacher who in fall 2012 will take a position with the San Joaquin County Office of Education.

Hoi added that working in Brown’s class — performing dissections, exploring the functions of the body — guided her to imagine a career in the medical field.

“It’s really hard to pick one example, because everything he teaches and every experiment he’s done, you can tell he loves doing it,” she said.

She plans to major in physiological science at University of California, Los Angeles, in the fall, and attend medical school after college.

Hoi said she had always been curious about how the body works, on both a general and a microscopic level.

“It’s the perfect career for me, I think,” she said.

Hoi also credited the International Baccalaureate academy at Tracy High with preparing her for the next level after Hoi added that it would be hard to say goodbye to the teachers and friends who made high school a “really wonderful” experience.

“Hopefully, I don’t cry,” she said. “It hasn’t hit me yet, but when I do leave for UCLA later in the fall, I think it’ll really hit me.”attending Hawkins School from first to eighth grade.

“I really like that the teachers are very comforting and help you with aspects outside academics,” she said. “I really like the environment … The (International Baccalaureate) teachers are really like your family and friends.”

In addition to her in-class success, Hoi was treasurer of the Key Club and a member of California Scholarship Federation, both of which raise funds for charity.

She was also a member of the high school’s first-in-the-county Academic Decathlon team this past year and worked outside school as a volunteer for Tzu Chi, a Chinese school in the Bay Area with an international, service-based focus.

Hoi won’t deliver a speech to her graduating classmates during the tickets-only commencement at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the school campus, 315 E. 11th St. But she said she expected it to be an emotional ceremony nonetheless.

While she’s excited about her future, Hoi said she would miss the time she had at Tracy High — especially seeing it transform with the addition of several classroom buildings.

“I was able to see it while it was under construction,” she said. “And now that it’s done. I feel like it’s not necessarily starting new for Tracy High, but I really think the fact that we’ve made a new school is really a bonding thing (for this class).”
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet

We encourage readers to share online comments in this forum, but please keep them respectful and constructive. This is not a space for personal attacks, libelous statements, profanity or racist slurs. Comments that stray from the topic of the story or are found to contain abusive language are subject to removal at the Press’ discretion, and the writer responsible will be subject to being blocked from making further comments and have their past comments deleted. Readers may report inappropriate comments by e-mailing the editor at