Moving nearly 4500 miles from Vacamonte, Panama to San Francisco, California, senior Katerine Chung chased the American dream of a better education. Through hard work and determination she was accepted to Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA and UCD. The journey was no easy task, with many challenges along the way, but it was worth it as she had the option to choose between several prestigious universities.
For sixteen years, Katerine Chung grew up in a poor neighborhood located in Panama. Vacomonte was her home for so long, and although she made so many friends there, her intent remained the same, to go to America. She recalls, “I begged my mom to let me go.” And the tough process that followed. Not only did she have to get a visa, but she also had to leave her whole life behind her. In fact, that was the most difficult thing for her to do. Leaving her family and friends left a void in her life as she made her way to America.
Upon arriving in California, Katerine Chung stayed with her aunt who conveniently lived in outer SF during her junior year. The transition for her was difficult however. Leaving her family behind was one of the most challenging things she did, but it was something she had to do if she wanted to live in America. The education system wasn’t easy as well, she recalls spending around 2 hours on average working on homework every day.
Panama was quite different than America academically. In Vacomonte Katherine would take 15 classes at once, all which were simpler and much more succinct. Even though she had to transition to a school where the focus of each class is much more in-depth, Katherine managed to accumulate a 4.1 GPA at Galileo.
Katherine also participated in multiple AP courses, totaling 6 AP throughout her junior and senior year. She attributes her academic success to her perseverance. Perseverance through all her long nights studying, and living without her family and friends.
Despite the difficulties of transitioning to school in America, growing up in Panama did have some benefits, as she learned English, which greatly helped her integration into American culture. Along with English, she also knows Cantonese and Spanish.
Outside of the classroom, Katherine became the president of the BuildON club at Galileo, which offers volunteering opportunities and scholarships to seniors and consistently doing well in school.
Katerine’s hard work put her into a great situation for next year, as she chose to stay in the Bay Area and attend UC Berkeley, and is planning on majoring in Civil Engineering.
Katerine’s background is riddled with interesting facts about herself. Like coming from Panama and finding success in a completely different culture. And taking the most rigorous courses offered by Galileo. It’s no wonder why she got into so many great colleges. Katerine Chung has proven that with determination, dreams can come true. Her quest for a college education begins now, as does her quest for a better life.